POSITIVES

'The body blunders forward
into the next second, in
its awkward bold half-aware
fashion, and getting there too
― doing things for the first time.'
                         Thom Gunn


Headless cyclist
Bisects
Line of
Rubber plants.
Late-night shoppers
Populate x-ray sleeve.
A just-discernible awning.
Warm glow of the market.


Restaurant.  Bureau de Change.
Look hard and
You sometimes sight
The same woman
Twice, as in a
Diptych entitled Vanitas
.
In her prime, discreet
Folds of shawl,
Smart leather handbag.
Twenty years later,
Dishevelled, painfully alert,
Bags under eyes.


Remember to park
Downtown
And remove
Number plates.
There is no plan B.
The unconscious,
Structured
Like street
Language.


Blurred simulacrum
Of escape.
Litter.
Railing.
Concrete.
Across this cold
Urban space
Movement of feet.


Adopt appropriate posture.
Stock exchange.
Carvery.
Savings.
Bonds.
Coins pitched on to
Soft lining of coat-tails.


That woman.
Is she coming
Towards you
Or going
Away?


White
Turban.
White
Teeth
Of the
Underground.


A hostile stare
Reaches you
At the speed of light.
Frisson.
Mute laughter.
Blanking.
Defusing hand-signal.


Light from the
Tunnel hits the
Side of his face,
Captured in profile.
Stress-line fissure.
Non-designer stubble.
Button missing
From overcoat.
Earth-ear.
Hair like thatch.


As they cross
The street
For the
Thousandth time
Something changes.
In the vortex
Of flash
Bare life
Displaces memorabilia.


Turban-line bisects
Look of worry
Underlined by
Too-tightly clutched
Handbag.
The movements form
Part of an
Instruction manual,
Entitled
Christmas Shopping.


MALE & MALE &
MALE & MALE &
MALE & MALE &
MALE & MALE &

WANTED:
Girls for
Nude
Bed
Show.


Petulant child.
Wheel stuck in mud.
Flimsy-strutted kite.
Earth-bound octagon.
Backwards propeller.
Anachorism.

Umbrella in the snow.


The scene is elsewhere.
Snow on the ground,
Open mouth,
The gathering crowd.
These are the clues.


Handicapped
By a
Ruthless
Work ethic
We look up
Not at the stars
But at the timetable.


Slight irregularities
Observable
In the brickwork
Like variations
In the dress code.
A single leaf
On the pavement.


Fintan.
Forty feet above
The river.
Mouth agape.
Gills flapping.
Like a fish
Out of water.


Walkway
Without a view
Where you
Would not
Dream of
Dawdling.
60s functionalism.


Guilt entrepreneur.
Like a detective
The camera
Homes in
On the face
Of crime.


In another version
Of the story
She comes toward you,
Open-armed,
Decollete.


Adopt foetal
Position in
Case
Of
Emergency.
Do not remove
Footwear.
In case of
Non-rearousal
Carry ID
At all times.


The distance
Yet to be
Travelled
That
Separates
Her from
The news.


He crosses the road
In a trance
In no hurry
To reach the other side.
The traffic-lights
Stuck permanently on red.


Striding up the steps,
Gloved, in a smart
New overcoat,
This might be
Roland Barthes,
Contemplating
The mythologies
Of a nation:
Fish and Chips,
Page 3,
Beer,
Wimbledon.


Frozen forever
On the icy road
The box
Precariously
Balanced
On
His
Shoulder.


How get inside
This woman?
Has she narrowly
Escaped some catastrophe?
Or is she just
Blowing her nose?


The pedestrian
Is dreaming
Of a bicycle.
The cyclist
Of a car.


As the cars
Turn off one
After another,
Down Leopold Street,
He pedals straight on
To encounter who knows
What enchantresses
And one-eyed giants.


Sat on the steps
Of the ABC:
Avril, Belinda.
Standing:
Lee.


In other versions
Of this story
There is a bomb.
Hidden
Under
The leaves
Of a banana
Tree.


The Observer.
The observer
Observing.
The observer
Observed.


Targets for darts.
The gates are locked.
The woman alone
Bag exposed.


Metamorphosis begins.
Fissure in
The atmosphere.
Bulking of limbs.
What story here
Awaits its end?


Faces descending the escalator
Patient, impatient,
Curious, incurious,
Settle forever in a wet black box.


Partially sighted,
There is no-one
To tell her
The bag she holds
Is half-open.
Heels frozen
At the same acute angle.
The myth behind
These images is
Yet to be written.


    Philip Terry 2006