'Graffiti' a poem by Lisa Gorton

by
February 2007, no. 288

'Graffiti' a poem by Lisa Gorton

by
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.

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