Ten minutes to midnight. The day, almost untouched
slips through my fingers. Too late
I reach for wasted life, come up
clutching death – and even this, not mine.
On the radio Jacqueline Du Pre plays
Elgar: both dead. And Mandelstam
who loved St. Petersburg but died
near Vladivostock, thumbing his nose at tyranny
once too often. In darkness only the posthumous
excite. Naively, I believe all I read, and
my own life, unread, remains
Tonight I’ll save for eavesdropping
on the woman next door, the friendliest
of my neighbours. Alone now, she talks
to herself: a surreal conversation, howls
and moans – at times almost like singing
− her reckless voice scorning words
in pursuit of some higher truth. Her struggle
is congenital, a lifelong quest for clarity
beyond her reach. I pass her, now and then,
arriving home or leaving, and say hello. Her whole face
wakes in reply, the most uncalculated greeting.
Each night at this time she repeats
this same performance, or rehearsal
for some more subtle conversation that
never happens. While, on my side of the wall,
I, too, rehearse – this poem, my life,
the day’s history – wringing out their sundry contents
as though some message awaited
a conclusion, as though to write such things
might one day be possible.
In the last seven years, Jeff Klooger has expanded in almost all directions. Recently he has begun to try to reverse this process in some respects. His poems have been published in his native Australia and internationally. His other interests are music, philosophy, and sociology. He teaches sociology, and his book on the ideas of the Greek-French philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis was published in 2009.
© 2010, Jeff Klooger