Issue 20: Rowland Bagnall
The face that’s missing from the fresco
you insist used to resemble yours. In ‘The Man with the Blue Guitar’,
you say, the man with the blue guitar discusses
absences as well, although it’s difficult
to tell when he is singing (if he ever is) and what a difference
that would make to what he’s ultimately getting at.
Equally, when we are drinking coffee in the morning
square I see the other saints about in robes, and surely
that’s the proof that we’ve been
rushing in between the two, between
the proposition as it’s made and as it then comes
to be understood: “Try reaching out and contacting
the hand that’s reaching out to you,” is how
a group of conservationists instruct the eager volunteers.
In ‘The Man with the Blue Guitar’, you say, the blue guitar
surprises you unless the man himself is blue as well,
as if appearing to the world at night, his skin producing
blueness as the blue guitar produces sound.
Likewise, whether consciously or not, you make
adjustments to your movements to avoid brushing against
the crowd, although it’s difficult to tell whether
the crowd can even tell you’re there.
I plan to test your bright façade. Undo your second
ultrasound. I plan to take your last exam. Retract your denim miniskirt.
Show me the empty storage vaults. Reveal the long-lost office chairs.
Show me the burnt projector room. Your box of stolen
prison dice. Can you decide which moons to view? Which knives
to stab the tourists with? Can you explain which clouds
to draw? Which shopping malls and streets to gild?
Velociraptors chase the car. Some Rodins freefall through the sky.
An origami crane unfurls. A potion can restore your hearts.
I want to blanket you with snow. To watch you hijack
someone’s life. I want to shower you with blame. To
hear that you’ve been stopped at last. Wake up and find yourself
embalmed. Retrieve your splintered ammonite. The park
unveils a solemn frieze. A hinge jams open swinging doors.
Rowland Bagnall is a writer currently based in Oxford. His poems have appeared previously in PN Review, Poetry London, PAIN, and The Quietus. A selection of his poems is forthcoming in New Poetries VII (Carcanet).