T. S. Eliot’s second-favourite poem is an office seating
chart, and proximity to the boss corresponds to your
salary’s hellish band, and every day I put in for more
personal calls to Beatrice, who never picks up,
what’s a history of poetry without Dante
at the photocopier, sending out
subject line RE:
of the world in exile, waiting
for God’s election.
Tell the Pope to go to hell.
From my office window
I can see that the trees
I was supposed to write about
have only just been born
and that their wings
are barely formed,
a blackbird’s colour,
the flower of necrosis,
pollinated by electrons.
God gives his most glorious soldiers of virtue
his most fluorescent lights. I dare you,
renegade: defy your calendar with paint—
I have seen one work of his to live by now,
one anonymous engraving, hiding perfectly
its surreal inner life like a lonely man
on the well-maintained but empty road.
Everyone knows how you
used to break clocks,
you looked inside
and they melted.
I know what that feels like.
You made a white soft cliff to climb
from human faces, and a face refracted
orbwise, the atomic heart made love invisible.
Femme visible. I have put these all away.
I walked into this room and saw
the sunlight of hell.
Fine like the fire of
over one lonely tormented
pilgrim wandering nightmare stricken
piously heartbroken poet of the future Dante—
dressed in the only possible colour,
one perfect shadow cross to bear.
This is the colour of poetry:
while leather soles
sand painting the
stickered sounding steps
on our well-read museum walls.
This is what poetry looks like:
several trees in a brushstroke line,
and one by one they learn to fly.
George Cox recently completed his honours degree in English at the University of Melbourne. Now he worries about spreadsheets and line endings. He has lived and studied on the land of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin nation since 2013. Find him on Twitter @george_r_t_c