All Fours


though it might have been chronic
around his neck and shoulders
filled with thick high weeds
the road was lined with stone

almost entranced she started
ordering quantities of everything
down the windows of your station
combed and perfectly normal

bees through blood and perhaps
night air while we rode back
followed him to the front porch
and the chimney bricks were fallen

she hasn’t heard from him since
filled in on the background
large machines can dig them
forced to take shelter in that house

watching her move about the kitchen
a uniformed policeman was standing
out like magic on the glass
we were living under siege again

two more men came in carrying
pages of an appointment book
not very good lights things happening
younger all clean and prosperous

a grievance a legitimate grievance
rumbled as the rain began
heavily where the blades pushed it
round doorways little brown children

in your car and go somewhere
dead or senseless at the wheel
crouched there taking no part
on the highway the sedan fishtailed

mosquitoes had been real fierce
with that wind coming off
substandard materials and workmanship
years of polishing have dulled

professional sound of a woman singing
damnation at an empty chair
soft black soot coats the slate
too splendidly suburban for adequate

illegible smears of block printing
held motion to a crawl
skimming over book titles
postured alluringly around the room

the important dynamic was between
peculiar and unique powers
to collect on his insurance
that portion of it reported

lovely little thing with eyes
as efficient as she had to be
shambling on down the tissue
range where embers had gone out

looking at everything said suicide
the area about her had the look
you see in old chromos
breathing not daring to smoke or cough

practically an abandoned road
several varieties of mushroom thrived
standing motionless in the shade
small common objects of assault

blown cell with a dusty bulb
an instant to blank shining glass
blocking out the moon and stars
vending machines on every floor

from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2003), copyright Tom Raworth 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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