Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off the Cuff 28: End of the Line & The Letter-Thieves

APAD 28    prompt: an 'end of the line' poem

End of the Line

It's the end of the line
for us. From here, it's car
or bus. The train continues
to other towns. And comes
from distant termini; we board
to gathering of personal items
and frowns. The times our train
stops at our station, I watch
with avid eye the transformation
from busy passenger container
to shunted overnight retainer.
I love the grey and red vans
parking very fast; I don't admire
the heavy reds that trundle past.
The Sprinters and the V-Line
Fast Trains leave me somewhat
breathless; for them to terminate
here would be feckless. But often
from the platform my avid eye
creates our country town
as Queen of the Termini.

The Letter-Thieves

Who are the letter-thieves?
Those reckless hands whose
existence shows up in
what's missing? Who takes
those L's and E's and R's
from innocent words
headline signs, the proprietary
nomenclature on truck doors?
"Bilinger" proclaimed
on back side of sixteen-wheeler
made into a cockney elision:
Bi inger on driver's door.
I saw it as I drove on traffic-
weighted bridge, and wondered:
who collects? to what use
are random letters put?

At work, my boyish colleagues
animate: "I used to steal the
street signs, I was seventeen,
it was FUN!"  "I shoplifted
one bandaid, once. And didn't
get away with it."  Perhaps

the thieves are masters of
deconstruction, proving language
is easily broken, disempowered.
Or are those letters jumping off
the walls and truck doors to which
they've been attached? Presented
with the idea of choice? Or realising,
their liaisons with other letters
are mismatched?

NaPoWriMo  28


  1. As you said in today's email, some of our most appreciated poems are the unprompted ones - maybe we should consider making a duo-collection of the NaPoWriMo ones. PS. I am sending you my list soon!