Two Poems by Robert Hamilton
Like Bedtime Stories With Klaus Kinski
Remind me there are skeletons
everywhere, walking, running,
only of course we never see them.
It bothered me once
that I will never see my own
& it still does, sometimes. Another’s,
yes, but not this second self
grinning gauntly, the femur line
or a gnarled tibia hinting at some
obscurely calcified tale. Child,
it will never get better than this.
Are you warm under the covers?
Do you feel your destiny harden
like bone inside you? Well, then I know
you must be lying. The streets
are filled with cold ingots of fear,
night sweats, bundled sticks to set
more frantic fears alight. The streets,
linden-lined, disguise their fleshpots
in drizzled pools of lake-shore shade.
How silent, the noonday pause: only
a protest from high branches
& beyond that a single shrill note
(heard only by the young), higher
than a bell but wavering the same way:
a voix céleste that is a double voice,
a dissonant bleat warbling from
a source you cannot find
(a satellite dish, a transformer box?)
Imagine if this worked on the eyes,
if the young alone could see
beneath these half-warm suits of flesh
thrashing &, on the hotter days,
shooting one another, nothing but
the rancid contents of a dolmen?
Like bedtime stories with Klaus Kinski,
this does little more than hackle up
the gooseflesh. Think rows of arms
extended at a rally. Think narrow
silhouettes on the blank walls. Think
of anything, really, to keep your mind
off the tinnitus, the stick pin of anxiety
aimed straight at the knot in your gut.
It is the same dream every night: an ill-lit apse
whose girders are too high to see. Twilight,
apparently. The corridors mostly empty.
In a corner shop, rings of dough hiss in fat.
My brother has to be here somewhere
but I cannot find him, not even up the escalator
that ends in a hall reeking of hard water
& cheap hotel sheets. One of the doors
gives on to a square of dark. Cold on the scalp,
rain like pellets of lead. This is the tarmac
of an airport, but the flights have all departed
& it is far too late for anything to be done.
I sit up, gasping, & you offer me a glass of water,
but I never know if this is still the dream,
or if you do it the same way each night. Surely not.
Morning light begs for good odds: smart money,
six one way, half dozen the other. But somewhere
a heavy silver coin is tossed & it comes up heads.
It comes up heads. It comes up heads. It comes up
heads. It comes up heads. It comes up heads …