2020-04-13

NaPoWriMo - 13/04/2020 - After everyone has gone

This is not 100% new, in fact it is one I have had around for a while, but never quite got anywhere with it.

And I have found it hard to progress with it, because I haven't been able to tell whether there's something else needed for the poem, or whether it just hasn't worked for the people I've shown it to because they...

...they...

...well basically because they are not me.

e.g. the poem might be talking about something that only completely means something to me: a mood, a moment, a constellation of personality fragments.

Which is always awkward, although it can in someways mean the poem is very interesting, philosophically speaking, it's never going to be an easy sell.

Anyway, warning: Nihilism



After everyone has gone



I - The way things are

Everybody lies,
the reporter tells the gangster.
He does not look at Greta.
She does not look at him. 

Everybody lies, the reporter says again, 
but most hide secrets I'd not trouble to expose:
the sins against greengrocers, the weekends lost in bars,
someone's idle fantasy about the boy who shines their car...
These are zeros on a newspaper's balance sheet:
they must exist, but they don't add up.


II - The way things are done

The gangster grunts.  He is watching Greta,
seemingly marooned in possessive, pensive fugue.
He is huge in his overcoat.  She is seducing
her reflection in the chromium counter side.
I knew several men who died, he murmurs,
without telling what they knew...

The reporter watches the window.
Evening has been and gone.  Outside, Klara
stacks the tables, one on top of one; neat,
in her food-preparer's suit.  It's a distant world outside.
Unreal.  Floodlit.  Cobbled.  She has become minute,
mute, a solitary figure far away.

...those men blew it, the gangster concludes,
it was always about money, and on another day,
they might have paid far more to live.
He grunts again and, concentrating, pours absinthe
through the drain-holes in his spoon.


III - Seen to be done

The private detective mans his station,
a secret location behind the newspaper
with a hole punched through the sports page.  He has coffee,
debris from several bagels, a table by the door.
He has watched the reporter not glance at Greta
all through the evening's length
as businessmen and politicians came, went
and thick brown envelopes changed hands.
His theory is that everybody cuts a deal
but pretends they are unownedthe way he is.

He gets free coffee refills.
He only just learned Greta's name, previously knew
cleavage through telephoto
hanging off the gangster's arm.
So in his notes she is the moll and seems
so totally unaffected
as would disprove his theory
if she didn't keep not noticing the reporter.

It is dark.  The last bus lumbers.
Klara enters from the street.
She is older than Greta, petite,
and palpably more muscular.  She bustles brusquely;
fills the reporter's beer in time to catch him say...
 ...a Truth is a thing to die for, on some days.


IV - What people say

Klara pours her own drink; puts him right:

It seems this way to you, your favoured life,
your comfy chairs, travel expenses, people...

she does not look at Greta

...do things for you, but that illusion
is a luxury, and we who fill your glasses know
there's nothing and no-one and emptiness
none of whom calls for Truth.  She takes
a moment, a breath, an empty glass.
She and the reporter watch Greta
put on lipstick for her reflection

with the gangster watching.

When she talks of him, she talks about his car,

his house, his clothes, his horse, this bar;
and when he talks of her, he talks about her legs,
the way she fills a dress, and a thing she does
with a glacé cherry; but I  know,
Klara whispers, that he wants other men jealous;
and she...

needs protection for when her dad gets out.


V - And what they do

The gangster leaves in his big black limo
with muffled thumping in the boot.
The reporter kindly once again
walks Greta home.
The detective folds Klara over the counter
bare breasts on the chrome.

It isn't that he loves her, or even that he's lonely.
She is convenient, accepting, reasonable company...
He just wishes she wasn't gasping: 

no-thing... no-one... emp-ty...
no-thing... no-one... emp-ty...

all the time.




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