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“Herman has taken to writing poetry. You need not tell anyone, for you know how these things get around.”- Elizabeth Melville

The poem below is dedicated to the woman above and to Patricia Highsmith.

“B-Billy Rollins, my name is.”

I’ve seen this carpet in so many places,

moved so far to get away from it

Different colours and patterns

everywhere the same dull map under my feet.

It covers all the steps on all the staircases that led to all the halls and landings

on the other side of all the doors

where the same footsteps still fall

And the same throat is calmly cleared.

“I never knock down doors, all doors open to me in the end. It’s a magic even I don’t understand. Everyone lets me in when their energy fails.”

Certain tables like certain items.

Look down at the tables,

everyone sees what’s on every table

and the same things appear repeated forever.

Flesh grows misshapen on words for the soil is poor there.

“Maybe you’re distracted maybe it’s a mistake but the doors all open to me; my patience is unending.”

And the violence is unspeakable.

Loved for that like music or food

One tongue silences the other.

“You can think what you like and feel what you like write what you like and perform it all for the attention of those whose love would hold you in place and stop the lichen growing through your pores.

Spend all the time you want in old railway stations, waiting for the reviews of your feelings to come in. I’ll still be on the landings, not quite the brilliant metaphor you would like me to be.”

It’s the same fresh face I know so well

and have never seen

The skin so smooth as to be utterly featureless,

so definitely pure it couldn’t exist.

In the right angles

Fungus grows

And he untouched

in the framing

Dig down through layers of reclaimed land,

endless recycled generations and find traces of him there,

or walking past a window as you look up

from a table

A Man of the Crowd.

If you follow him and stop him -though you won’t- He will say; his voice trembling:

“B-Billy Rollins, my name is.”

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