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I wonder how you see me. Whether you see me as some black mantis murderer ripping heads off of lost lovers, lying in wait and words; always hunting, setting traps - Whether you see me as a worm; wriggling, writing my way into other people's stories, or yours. Burrowing; like a parasite, a leech - Whether you see me as a vampire, or a vampire hunter at war with myself. Whether you see hope in the bloody stakes of my locker, or just macabre. There is a room I ask you do not go; I do science there. I wonder how you see me.


I didn't want to seat cancer at Christmas, but

it was with you, and I was never going to turn you away.

It is strange grieving for someone that is still

alive; that does not mean it is uncommon.

We do it for different reasons; some are simply

not the children we wanted, or

they are the children

we wanted, but they just turned out wrong;

or some went astray, awry. They wandered

into drugs, or desolation; into cults

like improv classes, scientology, or

they took mum's money and sold it for

the smack I'll give them

when we meet again (in this life of the next).

And yet; you sit there in all your hallowed,

hollowed glory, shining

like the miracle you are,

your lungs peppered with tumours that have

the good grace to let you sit with us

at Christmas. I never liked

your boyfriend.

He always reminded me of

an elephant seal; boisterous, swaggering,

eloquent only

if you cared to

speak his tongue of get rich quick schemes,

of cryptocurrent idolatry. I did not expect

him to stay, and while

I am mad at him for not proposing

while he can, he is welcome here; your cancer

is not. We make accommodations anyway,

change how we talk, laugh; eat,

how we pray, or what we pray for. It seems strange to talk to God while Cancer is in earshot. It feels like getting caught gossiping about a bad lover, lungful; about the parts of a body that thought they were doing right and betrayed you. I didn't want to seat cancer at Christmas, but it was with you, and I was never going to turn you away. It was easier to set an extra place than imagine next Christmas without you.


"And if we can't trust our memories, what then?" Then I will trust my heart; listen to the words I carry in every vein; and if mine eyes have become as liars then let me live again bound to my cardiac walls, let me bleed merriment when I think of you, let me weep when we are sick; let me breathe adrenaline as my sighs ride rollercoasters; dance with glowsticks beneath blankets with you. And if I am just a maladapted memory of yours? Think of me well when you wake up.


The most interesting thing about Ben Riddle is that he is putting together a little library of all the poetry he can find. The voices of poets go still too soon. He is the Director of Perth Underground Press.

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