Hold everything. Are those tulips hatching? Grain
by grain the crumbs of earth tumble aside as the sun warms
its breakfast. Lie on your stomach, worm your way into it,
observe this enterprise until you too take root.
Feel this rose. It wants to be a magnolia,
or else an exotic brand name in a line of Super Model
Parfum: ‘Badness’ or ‘Death.’ The florist has warned it
against unrealistic ambition, to know its place in the posy.
Pause for rumination. Wipe your fingers
on your pants. Is that spinach or wisteria
between your teeth? Pray the mother-in-law
doesn’t notice, you’ll never hear the end of it.
Dilate your pupils by staring at the night.
The less you see the more you’ll smell. Taste
this, it’s deafening. Of all my senses the sense
of the ridiculous is my fave.
Look. I reserved a seat for you. Here’s an apricot,
a chicken wing. Sit with me as the lions make
their entrance. The wilting giraffes. The pilgrims
on their knees. How can they sing at a time like this?
Count the bodies of the dead as they mount up
in the courtyard. This is what sells newspapers.
The autumn leaves crackle, the sibilant
broom hisses across the flagstones like hail.
Don’t sit there. My scorpion has escaped. It’s around
here somewhere. I’ve taught it how to curl its sting
and beckon like a prophet, but you never know, by
now someone else may have taught it how to point.
Who is he? Begging for alms again. Upsetting
the apple cart again. His mother inconsolable
squatting in the dust. Here is some milk. See
how it drips through the holes in his palms.
Remember, the future is a long time forgotten.
The starlings warm their claws on the humming wires.
Your kite out over the ocean, onward and upward,
its severed tail drifting over the houses.
Mark O’Flynn’s latest novel The Last Days of Ava Langdon was shortlisted for the 2017 Miles Franklin Award, the Prime Minister's Literary Award, and was winner of the Voss Prize. He has published four novels and six collections of poetry. He lives in the Blue Mountains.