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Dec 2020

He surfed
and suffered

all the channels
forward then backward

choice after choice of
no choice.

All channels appeared
infected with canned laughter

as if the dead
were laughing.

The TV glared at him:
"Don't you dare...turn me off!"

He dared.

Switched if off as if
he were switching himself off.

When he did so
next door...did so!

To test the coincidence
switched on again

and next door also did so
as if in synch and serendipity.

Maybe he was turning on and off
the whole hotel.

Or other people's lives
who could tell?

He, the turner-on-and-off
of worlds.

Felt as if he could
zap the rain

un-rain the rain
then let it loose again.

Or making the hooting owl

He was afraid to do it once
again to see

it was so
better not to know!

Felt the remote.
Felt remote.

Silence reigned.

As if sound had been stolen
from the world and

been replaced not with silence
but with non-sound.

Even silence would have been
a sound

compared to this

He watched the dance
of the lazy lace curtain

as if the window were

in and out and in and

Or it were
a ghost

doing a Hawaiian
hula dance

as if his entire self
had been replaced

molecule by molecule
with loneliness

nothing but loneliness
a man made entirely of


Only then could he begin
to cry.

Somewhere in a can
the dead were laughing.


β€œMusic was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

― Maya Angelou
Donall Dempsey
Written by
Donall Dempsey  Guildford
   Sam Lawrence
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