David O’Meara   

 

Café in Bodrum

 

The seaside patios are halved of people, scuttled with

upturned chairs. Ribbons of the laid-back cooling tide

stroke the harbour wall, levelled out

and listless as tourists’ thoughts, which are nowhere

and everywhere.

Down market lanes, scooters ferry

hot pide and hoick dry coughs

of grey exhaust over the interlocking stones. No

 

future can be delivered so quickly, despite

party slogans tied to each lamppost and awning

for the last stretch of the coming election,

though History’s narrowed eye might pause to blink

over a cloud of froth on a cappuccino

or these yacht-masts jabbing the azure.

Mausolus is too far to care. His famous tomb,

once a Seventh Wonder, couldn’t

outlive the pestle of invasion and earthquake.

A few fluted

column drums and troughs for drainage preserve the age;

now only the mind can descend these outlines of stairways

to pass through imagined thresholds

 

into some deserted notion of repose. We keep

our backs to it, as if for leverage, and meet

the heat of the sun on our faces. Piped-in pop music

stops mid-song as the call to prayer begins,

the flags sigh in the silence, lift and drop—a crescent,

a star, a crescent, a star—

as a cat yawns, scratches its ear, and squints

from the cool earth in a terracotta pot.

 

Home by Christmas

 

We had abandoned the west side of the river.

Mortared forty times in ten minutes with no consequence

but the sight of dead civilians. The first few doubled me over;

I tasted breakfast, but soon learned to permanently wince,

 

stitch disgust across my face, and talk hard, so there wasn’t proof

of weakness next time. I remember the sand and sun, the fragile walk

of dawn patrol under bleached beige-yellow skies, nostalgic for a non-tin roof

or mid-west thunderhead. We played paper-scissors-rock

 

to see who’d kick the doors in, while the others emptied their cartridges

into darkened rooms. They called in strikes. How the air would drone and shiver.

What happened, ended out there beyond the low, dry banks and ridges?

I don’t know. We had abandoned the west side of the river.

 

Five

 

I watch the sunlight drip behind the straight

high chunk of office block. The avenue tenses,

like a face. It’s the blurred half-hour of non-alibis

when no one’s claim to be any place

 

might stick. Lobbies roll the sped-up film reels

of people through revolving doors, and collector

lanes circulate like lazy pin-wheels.

It’s the blurred half-hour of possibility, when

 

work’s the scapegoat we’ve stuffed away, like a gagged

and groaning body in a trunk, and the stranger who waits

there with a spade, in suspense, might be the life

we’re rooting for. Both are angry, and afraid.

 

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SENTINEL POETRY (ONLINE) #42

The International Journal of Poetry & Graphics...since 2002

MAY 2006  ISSN 1479-425X    Editor: Amatoritsero Ede

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