His stare is much too intense
To be pronounced primly vacant.
His eyelids are hunched by horrors
That slip, slimy, out of the nothingness.
His lips are latched so tight
That teeth must grind until they grate.
His forehead is knitted like a compound fracture –
One pearl, one plain, one dropped, one lost.
He can hear all the hurts again –
The night cries of sorry and goodbye.
He can feel the loose lonely air
Lunge up like a glass fumbled on a marble floor.
He can smell the barley’s malted summons
And the stench of vaulted vomit.
He can taste the ale of acrid fury
And the brine of rotten tears.
But seeking nothingness is somehow sustaining
And almost more than he can manage.
Yet all the exit doors are clashed, closed,
And jammed too tight to jimmy.
But each day’s ripe reality still jars and scars
And keeps old poisons pure and primed.
Yet looking for nothingness houses hope,
For, hopefully, nothing can come of it.
* The title of this poem was inspired by Les Murray's "The Averted". The last line is an allusion to the opening scenes of Shakespeare's "King Lear". The picture was found through a Google search for images associated with Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray".