Afterword, London 2020

Afterwards the sun shone on the twelve ornate birdcages and the engraved tree stump. 

Afterwards the artists fell on lean times / some occupied rectangular rooms inside their rooms / at least one became a viral / sensation.  

Afterwards the daisies sought meaning while my two nephews observed from the window with a telescope. All of this was reported / in grainy images / all of this was archived by the specialists. None of this may be true. 

Afterwards we hoped for more afterwards and afterwards because the present was shadowed and shapeless and the past was a kingdom of reckoning.   

Afterwards my soap-wizened fingers forgot your cigarette and traversed the perimeters of your lips. 

Afterwards you mistook this gesture for silencing.  

(Perhaps this was because, for so long: we spoke of love and avoided its flesh / we removed the hairs from between our teeth and replaced it with song / we wiped down the evidence, wary of the sentences passed down from our own minds / we bundled it into laundry piles, believing it indecorous / we misplaced our duendes and mistranslated our appendages.) 

Afterwards we mourned the dead feathers before us. We, the scavenger birds, we, the butterflies, we, the ladybirds, we, the ducks, the queens. No others were present. No photographs were taken. All of this may be true. 

Afterwards our hearts craned, our lungs became lawless, we implored our forbearers, we foraged our windowsills and at last, having excavated the when and when, I ran alone through an empty car park in this sweltering city, and did not lament the gravel when it entered, and the lido was magnificent, the bare bones of it sucked dry of the peals of children, and the pilgrims atop the hill beckoned me up and up, and in my ascent was the unravelling of cathedrals and skyscrapers and the stone, the glass, the flashing red pimples said behold but there was nothing.  

uncollected poem, © Keith Jarrett 2021, used by permission of the author

Keith Jarret is a former UK Poetry Slam Champion and FLUPP International Poetry Slam Winner from London. He rose to prominence on the ...

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