THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2003

 
Peter Easter
CAN YOU HEAR THEM? NIGHT BRINGS ME ALL KINDS OF DARKNESSES
(Franz Xaver Messerscmidt, 1736-1783)
  There is always a shadow hiding in a corner
even when I chase it off with a fist of candles
and I cannot sleep for the constant chat-chat-chatter
trickling through keyholes and dripping off the handles
of locked doors murmuring its poisoned vocabulary
scratching nib catching digging into my vellumed brain
a spider liquefying the insides of its prey
but it's a siege that my army will defend again
as they do each night my army of magical heads
and I've made forty-eight of them now to guard my night
my neuromuscular henchmen alert to the tread
of the spirit of proportion that envies my sight
of creation as did the Austrian royal court
once upon a time praising my sculptures and statues
but not any more for me the patronising sport
the lowness of bowing to their highness-revenues
no no I took my leave and took my demons with me
it turns out and they all have a mouth inside my mind
I sweat their saliva when tortured by committee
and mirrors are disguised as me and I know behind
that mask screaming at the vision of such infest
I am haemorrhaging what little's left of myself
into my work my monoculture crop my harvest
my protectors my saviours from rat-squealing ill-health
they have not succeeded and neither will they everwhile the magical
heads stand guard and their expressions
wear the architecture of all human endeavour
they are all I have and I am the sole possession
of the demons and so therefore I outnumber them
forty-eight to one you see so let me show you round
the inside of my head my dream brought to fruition
in my other heads that remain mid-moment spellbound
the yawner and the childish weeper and the strong smell
gaping collapsing clenching screwed-up molten faces
petrified muscle maps of feeling all parallel
with the slivered continuum of the human race
it is the face of man the face of our existence
wax runs down candles as quick for kings as scavengers
life is long I shut my eyes from seeing such distance
cover my face with wet hands whisper to my fingers...


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