Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to support@standmagazine.org

This poem is taken from Stand 225, 18(1) March - May 2020.

Gary Allen Three Poems
Starlings

There are 57 varieties of Heinz
it says so on the tin –

there were many lovers
confused in many ways

the English man with the sea-blue eyes
and cheap tarnished presents
who was married and had forgotten his name
who closed all the windows in the motel room
who turned up the radio and the television
who hid condoms under the bed

and who was like a child in his mechanisms.

The tins go round and round without labels
none of the other girls think it strange
in aprons and hats and eye-glasses
they are inconspicuous like the Syrian girls or ball bearings

once she worked in a hotel with a flat beach
and counted how long in breaths
it took each man to come

some in desperate excited seconds.

No one speaks above the metal sound
yesterday in the toilets
she tried to kiss the coloured girl
who went berserk

she shrugged and said she was only fooling around

but inside she felt like the starling
that had somehow got into their airtight box
and beat itself to death high in the corner of the room.


Second hand weighing machines

This room is papered with old newspapers
layer upon layer by each new boarder –

I have been in rooms without a bed or table
without bread
without warmth

sometimes only a bible and a phone directory

all Europe is contradicted in this way
hidden behind the grand facades of stations
where Syrian children play in puddles
where girls in doorways offer themselves

to men who like it rough
to men who go home to wives
who work in tea rooms or coffee shops

and who talk to neighbours they don’t like
about the price of bacon
the hike in pensions

my lover went to Bulgaria
five o’clock the whores came down the street arm in arm
women told fortunes with male pornographic cards
old men hired out broken weighing machines

Europe is finished
sour dreams
the same old differences coming to the surface again

my lover is from East Berlin
she is a playwright
but no one wants her plays now
too feminist, too political

she is convinced there are bugs behind the wallpaper
she fears they will bring back heavy black phones
and interrogation rooms with broken clocks.


Restoration

Her last supper was in the open
rye bread, eggs, and wild mushrooms
over an open fire in the woods
the smell of smoke and bracken –
in a month the snow would be melting on the mountain peaks:

what did you think of my love
what were the last thoughts in your free mind?

the smell of old leather in trucks on the autobahns
girlie pictures fluttering from the ceilings of the cabs
the clock in the hall that didn’t work

it was this
it was this, or –

the lights of the filling stations blurred in rain
the dirty coffee
the overflowing bins
washing her breasts by a dull light bulb:

and in an old wooden church in Northern Italy
that was being restored
they found the mummified body of a young girl
jammed into the rafters
fossilised in the dry summer’s heat

hunched naked in the position she had been placed
as if in sacred carefulness
dust popping out of the worm-eaten wood
asleep without dreams or thoughts.

This poem is taken from Stand 225, 18(1) March - May 2020.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to support@standmagazine.org
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