Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

'Graffiti' a poem by Lisa Gorton

February 2007, no. 288

'Graffiti' a poem by Lisa Gorton

February 2007, no. 288

‘I wonder this wall can bear the weight of such words’
Graffiti on a wall in Pompeii

The city is smaller than you expected.
Its houses turn their backs on streets –

       And given half a chance
       who wouldn’t bunker down behind a stack of silence?
       An arm’s length of wall permits any depth
       of meditative calm or your money back –

Its walls are made of potsherds, broken bricks and stone
cut from the hill’s mouth, chain-lugged to the city –

       It happened just as you picture it:
       slaves bent double against the weight, whip cracks and flies,
       that crowd in the marketplace breaking off mid-sentence
       to see peace dragged in as a pile of stones –

The stucco of the city walls is everywhere
scratched with these piss-riddled importunities –

       – Cruel Lalagus, why don’t you love me?

A wall can bear the weight

       – All the girls love Celadus the Gladiator
The weight is nothing to the wall
      – Caesius faithfully loves M[… name lost]
A wall can bear the weight
      – For a good time, turn right at the end of the street

Out of the dark, ashes fall softly.
We have to stand up again and again to shake them off.
What a weight of light!
The dark is smaller than you expected.

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.