An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
The train travelled slowly
across the steppes of Russia.
How would I know the right village,
the one you had chosen among so many,
its name blurred among diminutives
and shifting consonants?
Your silver hair, the blueness of your gaze,
your way of arranging a house
so every room lived on in defiance of time.
I imagined I could already see
white vases spread across the lawn
to catch the fragments of your breath
you told us you would seal carefully
inside the first dew of autumn.
All across that strip of land visible from your window
a shadow was beginning to form
like the edge of something you
were about to whisper to me, your face
downcast and fixed elsewhere
as for a moment you turned back
before entering a doorway.
When I looked up from the train seat
and the blue and gold onion domes of the Marian church
gleamed above the station sign
that carried your initials, I rose quickly
and stepped out on the platform.
Porters nodded, the man with the waiting droshky
tilted his cap
and you were placed in your coffin
at the foot of the sky.
Only these village birch trees know
the exact degree of light, the right slant of stillness
to settle you into your posthumous
"We have to be clear."
Someone is talking into a mobile.
A car buzzes the listless smokers.
Two children explode like small hand grenades
whirring on the spot.
Sporting a glamorous hijab
their mother is texting a desultory reply
to her mother.
There are chains of messages reaching back
to the caves of the Dordogne
and forward to the flies that step cautiously
across the flaking skin of an old woman fallen asleep
on a subway train at the end of the twenty-third century.
The sky is neutral today like a study in greys
and it is hard always breathing in
the taste of a little more gloom.
A wave from the kid who jumps
to touch an overhanging bannister.
The sea sprite dives deeper
to lure the mariner to her brightly lit grotto
of whale bones and giant squid.
His erection grows harder as the pressure
of a thousand tons of ocean above him squeezes
his scrotum and throat.
They are walking in pairs down the avenues,
mothers and daughters, comparing
handbags and shoes on Bargain Basement racks.
"I'll change all the locks to the doors."
"I'll reinvent my life."
Rain falls. A man in an orange vest
smiles as the first drops stipple his skin.
Motorized wheelchairs and light planes
trace borders to the tableau of the afternoon.
Across the threadbare park
the train is ready to depart.
I am exactly one year older
than the average
just-buried male corpse in Russia.
Stored among rotting hay, slender statues of the true skippers. Their pipes broken at the stem, their eyes pecked out by seagulls, they lie with all their memories intact in the decaying hay, ready to be brought out sometime, cleaned and erected on a hillside. Totems to summon the sea. As far as the migrating clouds reach, the truthful hillocks come slowly to feed from their benign eyelessness.
We who have crossed small forests pride ourselves on distances transgressed, on a city known for its broken clocks, summer clearings where we outfaced the ravens, our breathless heartbreak at arriving. Better, we mutter to the cold air of nightfall, than rotting in a box of nasturtiums gone to seed by the front door.
Peter Boyle was born in Melbourne, Australia, and grew up in Sydney. He started writing poetry in his teens. He earned an honours degree in English from Sydney University, a Diploma of Education, and an MA in Spanish and Latin American Studies. He is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Ghostspeaking (2016), Towns in the Great Desert (2013) and Apocrypha (2009). In 2017 Ghostspeaking was awarded the New South Wales Premier's Prize for Poetry. As a translator of poetry from French and Spanish he has had six books published, including Selected Poems by Olga Orozco, Marosa di Giorgio and Jorge Palma, Tokonoma and Anima by José Kozer, and The Trees by Eugenio Montejo. His translation of José Kozer's Índole is forthcoming later this year from University of Alabama Press.