The Boy I Had Never Seen
He pointed me out one day
the boy I had never seen
in a class made of painted cardboard
and sticky glue that wove strangers together.
The boy was pallid, without conviction,
wispy haired waif, quivering lip, inaudible.
The headmistress held his arm,
her look could melt wedding bands,
the boy’s wavering finger was a death ray
to whom it touched, an eye for an eye
but I didn’t know my crime. He pointed
at three of us, the headmistress’s corrugated look
was enough to make us move down to her stuffed bird office,
papers spiralling into a concertina of work ringed by coffee cups.
We three mistaken felons stepped slowly over the threshold
knowing if we did so that pleading would elect no leniency.
I sniffled in fear in the office of the Cromwell of the school,
warts and all, and was punished for an unnamed trespass.
How to Resurrect the Dead
I mend you with the brushstrokes of my words,
a womb of royal jelly ink gasping
with the suddenness of resurrection.
Tipp-Ex covers my eyes so I can see
in these shadows ahead, a balloon tied
to my waist so I can lift you from the
page. I find you hidden amongst the leaves
of sleep, your eyes are sealed with trampled roots.
I prize them open with a lobster fork,
soothe them with a balm of blood. When open
they skinned me, those ravishing blues, full of
sparrows. You use my mouth to whisper at
the ghosts you leave behind as we skim the
treetops with acorns in our breast pockets
wrapped in paper aeroplanes. Up above
the page I dress you in milk and palm wine
for the restoration of your sanguine
petticoat flesh. I surrender the tapes
of your voice to set alight your briar
silence with stitched breath and the songs you sang.
Linger in the Doubled Up Darkness
I remember ampules of morphine that
made me hunch shouldered, bones on a heavy
chain longing to wrap themselves in flowers,
my muscles are scraps picked apart by birds.
When I sleep my bloated heart stops beating
so not to disturb me. The first moment
when I awake is the first beat of the
new day. Old morphine made time stand still and
hold its breath, vapour faced and crimson lipped.
The whole of space and time is in my grasp,
all I have to do is reach out and touch
the emerald pillbox, but I linger.
On the back of my hand I write your name,
alchemic, brought down from the sparrows nest.
Grant Tarbard is internationally published. His chapbook Yellow Wolf, published by WK Press, is available now.