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Saturday 1 December 2012

Mistaken Identity

Someone has nailed a note to the front door
like one left for the milkman -- but it reads:
                  KEEP OUT
The house's number, that I'd thought was six,
is twenty six. The two is on the ground.
All is boarded up, but none too well --
a plank has fallen, and a window, like
an eye half open, stares at me with some
malevolence --  and all the depths of ocean.
Does something far too grim for airing harbour there?
Strangest of all: the morning paper in
the front door tells, for those who care 
about these things, of shattering events 
around the world. But no one does, the paper 
goes on getting wetter in the rain.
There's no one here to care or take it in.

Three signs of life I see, and only three:
a tree is coming into leaf, a cat 
runs furtively from just behind a concrete wall
to garden rubbish bins. Precariously,
a mouse's life hangs from its teeth.

The garage doors hang crookedly
on rusted hinges to reveal
a jet black Cadillac -- with patches of
dark indigo, like someone beaten black
and blue. It might as well have been 
a hearse as adjunct to this house of death. 
But wait! A further sign of life: a nest
of robins in a smashed headlamp...

I'm imagining the Cadillac as hearse --
or maybe just another funeral car --
processing down this cobbled hill -- and who
will follow it and all the mourners shaken
up inside? The cat perhaps, the paper boy,
the refuse men and those who put the sign
in place -- and he who didn't know him: me.


kaykuala said...

Mysteriously beautiful,Dave! At least someone has the good sense or the 'audacity' to put up the sign. Great!


Brian Miller said...

interesting...i wonder at the end man...was the house a great metaphor for you ...the title makes me think too on how we label things one way but that ends up being because of how we perceive it and not reality....nice write man

Mary said...

Loved the description of this house, Dave. Lots of detail, almost as if it was describing a crime scene. Wait! Maybe it was. And, yes, I would follow to.

Daydreamertoo said...

Whew... that was quite the read.
Gripping. I wondered if the narrator was going to go and push the paper through the door. The cat and the mouse dangling precariously from it's mouth, not know if it was going to be living or dying got me....
All was bleak and then, the Robin's nest... wow
So filled with atmosphere and vivid imagery.
Ab Fab Dave!

Susan said...

A magic realism which ends in the imagination, for the car will not move without a driver, will it? Thank god for the imagists, young and old, who stalk our empties.

Helen said...

This kept me on the edge of my chair ... love the way you force us to 'figure' things out for ourselves.

ND Mitchell said...

Loved the vivid description of this! Pretty foreboding imagery brought it all to life. Nicely done!

Cloudia said...

In this one, I love how a happenstance (covered, fallen number) sets you off on an entire Versailles corridor, dear.

Aloha Blessings
from Honolulu
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Ygraine said...

So deeply moving, Dave! The demise of the inhabitant - or the house itself?
Dark and intriguing. I love this :)

Elephant's Child said...

Such a melancholy piece. Boarded up or obviously deserted houses always have that effect on me. And then my uncontrolled mind started wondering 'what if the sign had been put up by a disgruntled previous inhabitant - disappointed in love perhaps - or something more serious...'

Carl said...

This was one of those poems where I am sure everyone reads there own stuff into it. Well crafted and gripping.

Dave King said...

Thanks for this cheering comment.

Yes, perception is all I think. I didn't start out with the idea of the house being a metaphor, but that certainly happened along the way.

Well, yes, maybe it was a crime scene. Now if only I'd thought of that...

Yes, I guess that's how life seems to me. You're expecting bleak or you're expecting joy and suddenly you get the opposite. The two seem inextricably mixed somehow, almost like they're two sides of the same coin - to coin a cliche!

Well said! Yes indeed, I'll second that. Thanks for.

Thanks Helen - and actually I was figuring it out as I wrote. Helpful comment.

ND Mitchell
Hi, Good to have you visiting and good to have your comment. Thanks for saying.

Nice point. Thanks for making it.

Yes, I thought this was one where I could allow a measure of ambiguity.

The Elephant's Child
A brilliant What if? I like it a lot. (Wish I'd thought of it!) Thanks for give the old mind another jolt.

Yes, deliberately left the door open for other thoughts to wander in. Thanks Carl.

A Cuban In London said...

Very intriguing. You kept me guessing, especially because of the clues (or were there any?): the cat, the newspaper, the robins. :-)

Greetings from London.