S. K. Kelen

Deus ex Machina

Words the dead said 
embodied the thoughts they had, 
some written down on paper

mailed to and read by another dead
person, but while they were alive,
living their Age, having their time

and these words can stay with us
the famous saying
a catchy line, timeless

signifying a time, an era, 
a flash, of History—
though most that’s said 

just disappears— 
words just blurted out 
gone nowhere, 

slipped into the aether,
Space or wherever 
words go when they go,

some very beautiful words 
got lost in time and space
great-grandparents’ words 

gossamer and lace
floating above a bright atoll
mist in a churchyard

or settling over a plateau
grinding wars and sunny holidays
hand-written on curled postcards.

Goodbyes and hellos 
(hey, missing you...)
words meant never said, 

their sweet oblivion
silent, therefore of great
power and music,

words we didn’t listen to
when we had the chance
should have read more closely

things best left unsaid,
the way angry words live many lives
come back and haunt us,

a note nailed to your heart
flutters at night
with the planets and stars 

breathless, sad, remembering—
etheric words orbit an orb,
hang around, 

need a pen, keyboard, 
a terminal 
or lips transfixed

will give body to lost speech, 
crumbling type font
newsprint and dusty old books

maps, journals, children's first words
scribbled on the back of a photo
ancient magazines, talking heads

on black & white TV, crackling radio talk
broadcast a century ago. 
The undeparted utterances—

every word is touchable
until it begins to fade.

dangle on the other side—
the walls between are paper-thin,
an email arrives, full of whispering.

S. K. Kelen is an Australian poet who has been writing longer than he cares to remember. He lives in a city where the reserves and parklands are inhabited by kangaroos, wallaroos, echidnas and many kinds of beautiful parrots and other wonderful animals. His most recent books are A Happening in Hades (Waratah, NSW: Puncher & Wattmann 2020), and Love’s Philosophy (Summer Hill, NSW: Gazebo Books 2020)
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