Five Poems by / Gary Cummiskey       

Out on the street

It’s true I live nowhere. I have no face. I’m a bird, an otter, a slice of pizza, a lie. I plant mushrooms in shacks and gather horses from townships. I wander through the naked Karoo in a green shirt and ugly red jersey ‒ I’m a misplaced soccer fan in a valley full of misfits and beggars beating on a broken drum.

Snap

Yes, I can see beyond the curved curtain: my hand is on the beach-side railing and the parrot lifts its beak for food. ‘What are you busy with?’ asks the man who climbs in through the window, a broken wing falling over his face. The dog barks as we all stare into the camera.

Cardboard kings

Train tickets

soft

in

the rain

cardboard

kings

suspended

in

loneliness

fingertips

slipping

on

wet thighs

Still now

My eyes are blindfolded, though I know the sky above me is dark blue and thirteen birds fly around my head. The birds are never still, but I remain still ‒ nothing moves in my hemisphere. My nose might be long and pointed, but at no time will any of the birds rest there. My mouth is stitched; I have many secrets to tell, but you will never hear them. Or perhaps one day you will, but not now. For now there is only silence. 

Nowhere rooms

The night market is ready to close, with emptying stalls, muttering shopkeepers, kittens playing in turquoise corners. Alleyways lead to nowhere rooms, where strange faces are met with desolate stares. We walk to the moonlit mosque. To the left there is a statue surrounded by police cars. The policemen are brandishing white sheets and laughing. You tell me the wet tongue is broken.

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