Patrick Cahill

    Welt Detektiv
        after William Kentridge’s Five Themes art exhibit

He viewed his shell—an insect’s?—a necessary adjustment. Also the extra legs. Insects, six. Spiders, eight. Five legs. Three. Mechanical. But then who was counting? His transformation of transportation. His life had become an endless surveillance loop. Their dark figures drag themselves across a screen. Shoulder their shapeless burdens. Spread wings melt into a blackened abstraction. His mind had learned to control the implement inside his head, activate the music that scored his day. Newsprint scrolled across the bridge of his nose. Their ragged shapes, black against the white light, stuttering from left to right across the screen. If only they had dared a supposition, there’d be a trace. An underground narrative stream surfaces, wet with expectation, then disappears. What does a welt detektiv detect? The torn edges of print widen crossing his face. Music floods the margins of his brain. Think, he thinks. Think down the volume, thought select a different score. But will he detect the cartoon bomb, its black sphere and sparkling wick, under the prostrate figure just ahead of us? Before the real explosion?

    Dark Druid of the Sīdhe

The machinery of sleep deceived us. Scar City, a scarcity. Your day in the Sīdhe one hundred contagious years. Nightshade. Above your breasts Cyrillic notations. You left the life, bound your words with yellow thread. An inhabited life, a resistance. Under a shotgun blast of stars, crawl space of the Sīdhe. Your dark druid, twilight, scalpel, his drug. A small pendant, flakes of black and turquoise above your breasts. Threaded wire cross-hatched the glass through which. Encroaching thin shoots and leaves thinned the sun. Laminar flow silkened a riverbed. Scar City, spirit haunt, insomnia, Druidville. Rivers of the Sīdhe. A spherical pendant, flakes of unrecovered light. Turquoise and black his whispered seductions. The scar tissue beneath his song. Are we here? Have you returned? Have you yet left the Sīdhe?

    Re mem ber?

I remember her. Rather I remember a memory of her, a street in Rabat, a young woman, Moroccan, a narrow street down to the river, ocean or river, down to the water. A boy perhaps, was it a boy, androgynous, bringing coconuts down to a dock, splitting their shells. Rabat, or somewhere south on the coast. Another coast. A coast perhaps on the south of Spain. A Spanish girl down a narrow street in Cádiz, down to a gulf, the Gulf of Cádiz. Was she beautiful? The girl or the Gulf? The girl, was she beautiful? I don’t remember. Her face? How could I possibly remember her face? Hers or his, the androgynous boy. You remember the memory of a girl in Cádiz, Cádiz or Rabat, a girl or a boy, a narrow street, an impression of water. Coconuts spilling watery milk. A coast of Arabic aspect, Arabic façades adjoining it. Fractured shells, salt water or funk—a river’s funk, it rationed the air. A memory of memory’s watery dissolves. This much I remember.

    The Poet Ponders His Lot

Arthur Rimbaud in my café, talking to himself—his one and only imaginary friend. Obnoxious but cute. A mouse under the table, picking up the poet’s crumbs. The mouse speaks English, but squeaks in French. A vector for diseases, that hairless tail, a motor mouth to boot. But cute. Orpheus had his radio, so why must I, the poet mutters, have to take dictation from a rodent? C’est aussi simple qu’une phrase musicale. He eyes the mouse. That’s easy enough for you to say. If only he could snag a fly on the tip of his tongue, circle the moon, assume the aura circling the moon, describe again the victim in the flames. That didn’t arrive by radio. The blue in the eyes, a see-through blue. So she walks in, a glimpse of a breast suggesting a course. Then he walks in, his pantalon just about to slip his hips. Him or her, the poet thinks, maybe both, I’ve been around, I’m flexible. Later for the verse. In your dreams, the mouse says, in your dreams, and disappears.

Patrick Cahill coedits Ambush Review, a literary and arts publication based in San Francisco, CA. His work has appeared recently in San Francisco Peace and Hope, Feather Floating on the Water, Digging Our Poetic Roots, and Left Curve.
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