Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day 1985

The photograph comes,
and I glue it
to the galley sheet.
No story follows,
just an empty canister
in the pneumatic tube.
The letters
X and V and E
sometimes appear,
and a newsreel
with trees
and empty space with sun.
Your nakedness gestures
from the dirt like a worm
sliced in half
on the street
by a shoe.
Who are you?

Months after
this nightmare
I saw your face
in the glass
at the bar
where the criminals
play chess
and mix tea
with synthehol.
I thought
you might know me,
but you looked
into my eyes
and turned away blankly.
The drink at the bar
didn't stop
my hands from shaking.
That wasn't you.
It wore
the red sash
of the elite,
Party soldier.
I'll go to
the thought police
and confess
this crime of words
I should not think
and beg them to fix me.

They'll incinerate
from my mind
your picture
with no headline
whose existence
means death
and desire
that subvert
the state.
In that room I love,
they'll make me right
as the rat gnaws my eyes.
and those words
I cannot think
will rot like skin
and you'll go back
to being what you are:
ghost of a past
that never was.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.


  1. Charles, pretty outstanding piece here. Each stanza builds in intensity and image. Each passage presents the reader with some wonderfully chosen choice words and phrases, some casting their image to the visual and others to the essentially thought provoking, where no visual is necessary, parts of the mind. The second scene here, really stands out to me, as it is the middle portion of the tale, but also a view into the reflection, no pun intended, that is being seen. I'd also like to mention of the x, v and e- love the way it allows the reader to draw their own interpretations as to the exact words that each the lettered symbol represents, yet, perhaps it's just me, I think of the game that was played upon Malvolio, in I believe 12th night, where the letters appeared to him. Anyhow, excellent job, thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks

  2. Agree with Fred above, a stand out, just pure terror and a definite Orwellian overcast hanging between the lines which doesn't obscure for one minute the truths they pluck out with their delicate surgical instruments of torture. Fine fine poem.

  3. I enjoyed the journey or the nightmare...leading to the end:

    "ghost of a past
    that never was. "

    An excellent piece ~

  4. A wonderfully penned quest indeed. Finding out one can never go back and haunted by the never was, could truly be a nightmare for some but a relief for others as well.

  5. dang charles...this is a wonderful piece...and agree with hedge about the orwellian overcast...left me breathless...will read it again now...

    1. Thank you. I think this comment just kept me from going insane. Thankfully, I think.

  6. Wow... I love this, Charles...

    I'll go to
    the thought police
    and confess
    this crime of words

  7. Entered by Charles for @velvetinapurrs who couldn't enter comments in Blogger

    Hey Mr C! I really enjoyed this dark voyage, the surreal night(mare), the dystopian societal grip, but also the 'love' glimpsed, the fleeting traces, memories on a slant,'nakedness gestures from the dirt like a worm' is intriging, the imagined 'ghost of a past that never was' ~ it powerfully wraps around the central conception of connections, missed/imagined connections, & ultimate disconnections, in the face of a shifting reality/perceptions that can't be held, or believed in..I love 'and confess, this crime of words, I should not think, and beg them to fix me.'..the close is very powerful.

    1. What is sad about Orwell and this take on him is that we are conditioned to such a terrifying degree. I have opened up the possibility that love can endure this conditioning, if only as a nightmare, a possibility I am not sure that Orwell believed exists.

    2. Reply to these comments made by @velvetinapurrs in tweets to me:

      well I'm with you on that, I understand his work, but I believe more in the human spirit, & yes love..but then I would! his work, & what he demonstrates is vital, & the context in which he conceived it needs to be remembered, but I believe in the individual, not the 'average' perception of a generalised human, & there are always those that ? & will fight, it may not be the the norm, but it is perhaps more normal than he or we may realise..thanku so much for sharing your inspiration, very cool.. ☺

  8. They say that to have loved and lost is better than never having loved at all. Is it true then that an invented love is better than none at all?

    1. I think fiction makes up much of out lives, the stories we tell ourselves to get thru the day. When reality catches up with fiction and the two fight it out in the soul, I think that's where truth is born. Why would love be different? Except perhaps that it both forms the soul of the fight and, if great, can command the peace.

  9. ewwwww! powerfully angsty, wow! "the thought police"

    and the imagery reflected it all -

    "Your nakedness gestures
    from the dirt like a worm
    sliced in half"

    the short lines and pacing fit really well together too, nice work charles, thanks!