The Messages

By | 1 May 2020

On Sunday afternoons the price of broccoli
may well drop by eighty percent,
the noodles bear the pallor of the travel sick,
but the uncontracted can’t be picky

though the troubled, otherworldly stare of hunger
only adds to the spooky aesthetic
lazy or at-their-wits’-end detectives expect
from their local psychic correspondent;

should the missing person remain undiscovered
in the abandoned trophy factory
and the only recourse be supernatural,
it’s Cheryl who is waiting by the phone.

Hers is a dying trade—there’s no future in it,
she’d say—but a gift wasted is a sin,
however hard it is raising handfuls of boys
on a couple of hours of work a month

and Agony-Aunting for trashy magazines,
but harder is catching the cashier’s eye
and seeing not the routine mysteries of love
and divorce, but a moonlit winter’s night

a multi-story car park a decade away,
from somewhere, the quick bristling of fists,
and knowing the boys will be teenagers by then
or were already, or never won’t be.

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