5 Dec 2013

Cryptographs – Philip Salom

[1950–current, Australian]

The air moves on you like a naked woman.
The night’s made the shape of a shop.
You’ve been offered one and stolen from the other 
and glad it was that way about.

Avoid people who bore you,
nothing’s so dull as your wrists
when your blood beats like some rock and roll
you couldn’t even stand as a kid.

A risk’s not a short-cut but a new way 
home, as home’s not the same river twice.
Swim in the art like a lover comes, or 
risk to – the windows lift up like a gasp.

Sunk into language you can swim 
without moving. The currents sway you 
as much as the sharks.

Or sit there in its armchair
as it stares coolly from the fireplace 
and you go up in flames. 

Looking for a title
then seeing what the hunger is 
and what all art is: 
feeding the ghost. 

And having fed it I 
in choosing words for what
did not at the time exist
make it our illusion.

The poem pretends to exist 
like a fact before the title
but all the emptiness is 
named by this. Paradigm.

The wall remembers everything,
staying on when you should have left, 
saying yes when you really meant no
and all such shameful vacuums.

Source: Salom, P 1993, Feeding the ghost, Penguin Books London.

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