Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Billboard Said 'Yes' (1998)

A billboard said 'Yes'
but I was seeing 'No'.

An ambulance sirens its way through anxious
traffic. Spread of paralysis.

Looking to the objects on the ground,
I linger over a blister pack, emptied of capsules:

a monthly course of medication disappeared,
placed on tongue, down throat.
All out of.

Sitting streetside on steps, she says to him,
'What about that other money you were getting?'
Him shrugging shoulders, head swivels away, breathes.
His beanie, jeans ripped, scratches back of neck;
she cigarette between lipstick, tracksuit and boyvoice.

A billboard said 'Yes';
I walk past them, picturing the timestamp on my train ticket.

Man stands on concrete stage, sprays words of God out at moving targets;
I cover half my face to be sure I take nothing in.

Streetcorner: town's renowned drunk sat, dancing-eyes,
with baby-bloated Koori woman.
They talk about Princess Di. Flinders St station opposite,
smells of trains.

A girl I know up ahead. Here she is, far gone and out-of-it,
searching for anyone anything.
Her liquefied body: cling, latch on to. Then here I am: solid,
catchable, acquiesce. She breaks in. My meagre space. Her head
sprouting many arms.

A billboard said 'Yes',
and I wanted to jump up into it,
freeze smiling up there with a message.

Versions of this poem was published in Voiceworks Issue 32 ('Distance'), 1998, and in The Words We Found (an anthology celebrating 21 years of Voiceworks).

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