Stu Hatton

an ending

You extended an invitation to everyone you’d ever known. And the outcome seemed inevitable: those few who initially accepted would later send their last-minute apologies.

It’s hard to know how many took you (or your invitation) seriously—& if you’d asked, wouldn’t the question itself have been treated as some sort of joke?

If only you could have been heard; if only you could have spoken.

Possibly your name will be remembered by some, if only for having been confused with someone else’s, or for being left off lists.

History may not take the time to bemoan the underachievements of your longings.

Then there were your sincere attempts to join the conversation. It’s true, mostly you spoke as if your mouth were clogged with bread. Your mother tongue became a precipice, allowing not a single excess or misstep …

At times, perhaps, you were too eager for calm, to grow equal with yourself, to polish your fine cage.

The police never arrived to take you away, if indeed they were ever on their way. What would the charge (or charges) have been? This question occupied you, lodging itself like a scribbled note in your breast pocket (& perhaps it is lodged there still?)

You had written that you never understood how to greet or to bid farewell, never knowing when the preliminaries were over, or when the closing ceremonies had begun.

It’s likely you would have avoided the term ‘inner life’, but yours seems to have been a slog: constantly close-reading the road for the most insignificant of hazards.

Often when being spoken to, or when reading alone, you could not withstand the sting of meaning, & felt a sensation you could only later articulate as ‘slipping out of the hour’.

And yet you were not one of those who feel the world can be seen too clearly.

Even if you’d had the means to buy yourself some better weather, I doubt you would have made the purchase.

It seems there were matters forever bobbing around & pressing themselves upon your head, like solemn little boats. There is no getting away from the unspeakable, since it will speak itself through other means. For better or worse, it gives each of us something to carry … It gave you something to carry. All of its weight may have seemed permanent for a moment, all of that fine print excusing you from greatness.

But you had very little time for the vastness of ‘the moment’ or ‘the now’ (& it should be noted that these terms annoyed you). Whether you found yourself adrift in wilderness, or the inner reaches, there might be a sudden sense of loss, or dissolution, as if all of this—the entire predicament—were happening to no one.

I don’t know whether to believe those who claim your laughter was a formality, some imitation of pleasure.

Put it this way: you filled your books with night & night-like things.

‘Having understood,’ you wrote, ‘that property begins here, with having to be monstrous amongst monsters … one learns little, other than how to come to ruin.’

Perhaps some kind of heaven now welcomes you, but without enthusiasm—as if you had merely returned after a brief absence.

the sun too is a cloud

As he takes another breather from painstakingly explaining your face, again the Troll of Wisdom permits you to brush his eyelids with nettles. And again he relates the fallacious dream where everyone’s illicit finds exhibit a banal similarity, like nature strips fronting complacent homes.

He has the gall to lament that ‘mourning the present brings no luck’, & calls this wisdom, the prick! You reply, in effect, that there is nothing stopping him from leaving your goodly abode, which by now is surely hemmed on all sides by houses of ill repute. ‘The sun too is a cloud,’ he declares, as if he were proffering the world’s first waters. You remind him that one of your beds is for sleeping, & the other for talk.

‘I saw your prime, & what pleasure looks like: a flesh like so much clairaudient paint!’ he says, doing something lunar with his eyes, & you laugh, confident that the guillotine is not beyond repair. Soon enough you will lead him to where it stands: the public square resounding with straw men & conflations, where the flies cannot be deterred.

The Decline of Magic

You’re wrong to think you have no better gift for me than this twice-spurned apology. Why deepen the apologetic mood while we lurch through our penance?

‘But one of our adversaries, at least, is unknowable,’ you say, practically regarding this as some eternal law of nature.

Lately you’ve taken to speaking in proverbs on a theme of trees, e.g. ‘a tree grown from one’s navel will surely get lost in the forest’, or ‘the most skyward of trees stands in its rhythm, gathering the wind’. What am I to make of these? I have never read a single book, & have no pertinent training.

We were once no more than three miles from the sea but, in our grand style, never knew it. Even the gods here are partial to a bit of morning worship; they too wish to pet the water’s lips.

Here on the island, the sleepless ones stand cupped by the light, mimicking the armoured glass around the prize-giving. So many near-life experiences… but what are these burning heaps: the spoilt ballots oh-so-carelessly thrown into the count? And look how the sun is westing, like a solitary egg rotting in the nest! I know what you’ll say: the path of liberation is now closed, etc. That the only thing left to us is the meal we must face without hunger. But no, though ‘our’ former triumphs now make us seem mere forgeries, we must gather materials from which to shape beginnings of a game without end.


your tack (for the end-times):
to abandon
all opinions

to insist upon
a rigorous abstinence
from drawing conclusions


& to inhabit
a tiny treehouse
above the fairway of the ninth


on your morning walks
around the derelict course,
dense clouds of mosquitoes
vouch that you’re uncalled-for

(as reliable a joke
as those tattered maps of wild foods
& water-holes … )


you keep your face down,
become a book—so what?

if you seek evil
it is only to verify
its existence

outplaying itself

& at this late hour
who’s likely to show up & say,
‘I bow down before you,
request your teachings’?


you meditate like a burning
head (in a thunderous
hive (in Hades))

Long Live the King

The stout servant-girls hum along, readying the throne room for the fortieth anniversary of his one true thought. Presumably it’s what they whisper amongst themselves that attracts the ants. But if you ask, no one will tell you who has been tasked with patrolling the hole in his celibacy.


The curse of his bloodline: to become unwittingly comedic in failing to unriddle the courtly life, while remaining serenely oblivious to any division of labour.


It is said that the bag held mouth downward at a respectful distance forms the king. Interestingly, his mind (what is left of it) changes hands at exactly the same rate as the kingdom. And the royal guards, for all their loyalty, would bleed only air.


Many a pawn seeking promotion is taken en passant. With a thief’s moonlit concentration, a hooded figure pours something other than water into the ear of the bromeliad.


No court-dweller would question that a kiss can be a ‘slip of the tongue’, & articulate. So runs a well-loved verse from the Book of Equivalences.


In the night garden, the wilting agapanthus offers him no transcendence, & when someone shifts their clothing slightly, he finds himself in double check.


Though I for one remain loyal, I’ve heard that the queen sleeps well in her chamber. May a slug lick clean my ear!

Stu Hatton is a writer, editor & educator who lives in central Victoria, Australia.
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