a & e, by patrick williamson


it’s going to be long
like being in a plane for seven hours
alcoholism in the family is like a tornado
it can leave your life in ruins
I want someone to care for me
what to do when in contact with blood
and other body fluids
but there is just this passionless heart
round the clock TV – all night
push everything to the background
search for the core

all you hear are the screams
of the aircraft disaster movie slowplay
and the shuffles of the waiting
as they try to quench the pain
hours hours you said – then the call
came so quickly – a weight is lifted
but guilt clamps the flow– the others
left behind – am I the privileged one.

I could happen to anybody – note
I help the men who watch the screen
and track and trade and execute,
the talk is always of the long term.

I’m still no closer, the night
has just begun – are you going
to stay up all night, is it not
a lost cause – no cause no cause.

English poet and translator. Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012) and translator notably of Tahar Bekri, Gilles Cyr, Guido Cupani and Erri de Luca. Poetry collections in English-Italian with Samuele Editore: Traversi (2018), Beneficato (2015), Nel Santuario (2013; Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

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