ditch,

the poetry that matters

Jeff Casselman

Jeff Casselman was born in Montreal, Quebec Canada in 1971.  He has lived in Vancouver, British Columbia and later spent some six years living and working in the Republic of Ireland.  In 1989 he was shortlisted for the Lester B. Pearson Scolarship award for Literature where his works appeared in "Voices", a Schoolboard Pubication.  In 2008 he took first prize in a local short story contest sponsored by the Local Circulation newspaper "The Hudson Gazette".  He currently maintains a poetry Blog "Postcards from Purgatory", and administrates a Local Social Networking Platform "The Village Voice" devoted to promotion of local business and talent as well as disussion of topics of concern to the community at large.  He lives and Writes out of Hudson, Quebec Canada.

1.  Insomnia
 
This is not real.  None of this is real.  All of this is a series of letters on the page. All of this is all it amounts to.  Letters filed one after the other to create the illusion of coherence.  On their own they mean nothing but constructs.  Rearranged they are and always will be a different life.  This is not real.  Those shadows on the three a.m. dark bedroom ceiling are not real.  The cracks and fissures in your bed are not real, the rumblings and quakes and shifts in tectonic skins.  Those rampant thoughts of failure are not real, squashed flatly under cartoon sledgehammers they become even less real.  Failure is not real.  Sleeplessness is not real.  Failure is an ending, sleeplessness a continuation of itself.  Failures do not continue, failures just fail, and therefore they are a lie sleeplessness sells to maintain itself.  The twilight between this dream and this not waking as minutes roll by is not real, it tells you so, it has no solid ground for you to slam into and no airy expanse for you to fly through.  It is an embryo, placenta, a viscous regeneration where dead skins refuse to fall away and you float cradled in a sorrowful familiar  jelly.  Held aloft on your own words like a gull frozen over the hole ocean at one point in it's sky, citing that you can never reach a horizon anyway so why fly?   This question is not real.  No question is real.  It is not real, this thin fishing wire of suspension, or the meticulous lines of the waxwork face you wear, it is not real at all.  Life is hurtling forward uncontrollably, reels are changed and changed again as the whirr of the projectors continue.  It is this transition felt between different moments, where every mile has pulled a mountain down from the top and you walk uncomfortably over it's jagged shards with nowhere in mind.  It is the waiting at one bus stop for the rest of your life.  It is the terminus where you must turn and walk backwards, knowing you missed your stop.  That is not real.  It is the pinpricks of light whipping by as the train rolls through the night.  Light and darkness are not real.  It is your reflection dimly lit in an empty shop front window as you walk stumble down some empty Monday night European street from your local.  No, It is not real. Not this moment, not ever. It is the prisoner trapped behind these glazed over eyes watching and waiting for the next accident with no surprise at all.  It is not real, those headlights bearing down on you.  There is no wire tied to your arms or legs or eyelids.  There is no puppet master.  This is not real.  Those dark circles under your eyes will fade.  With a finger your chains will burst from the wall and crumble to dust.  Sleep will come to you like a nurse to a wounded man on the battlefield, to close your eyes under her hand until you can live again.
 
2.  The Maiestas
 
The stage here has been set, there are flowers and candles in the corners, red velvet curtains covering  mock back-lit windows.  A ticking clock files at the silence in raw sequential strokes of a second hand.  There is a chamber orchestra, half awl, half asleep at their instruments.  There is a crowd of people looking the other way.  One allegedly whispers that each seat is a nation, and each nation fills a mote, and each mote is the world drowning under the seat of another mote.  There is a fearful symmetry in this  This is not an opera, this is not a grand spectacle, the players will take to the stage largely unannounced and unnoticed. There is a stale scent of optimism in the air, there are numerous calls for barter, and an equaling amount of replies with nothing to offer but their act of incessant taking.  This is called balance for those who swell.  The troop begin their sequence as business goes on.   Voices are raised and fall, scenes are played out in perpetual ignorance, the myth of a production is the quality of it's complete ineffectiveness, mostly for those who can't recall ever having seen it.  Points are made and sharpened here, then there are punctures, and soon everyone is deflated or impaled on circumstance.  The players take no notice, going on about their business of entertainment.  When the production is over they do not bow and leave the stage exactly as they found it.
 
3.  In One True Poverty
 
Addressing of the park bench, the pigeons,  the faded picture in yesterday's newspapers, the snow that just keeps falling and falling, the vague statistic someone else fell into; the wind howling outside a window, that's crying unformed, cold fingers and toes.  The stray look along the sidewalk, that pointless searching.  The fleeting warmth of the steaming grate, the rough shelter in every closed door, the eyes outside the fine China shop lingering but no longer proud enough to be jealous or even interested.  The one with a child in a closed hand, a rigor mortis of the soul, which does not allow for peace holds the fingers shut tight.  The one who has forgotten to speak out, who hold their words like their valueless currency.  The one who once deserved more and still bargains for less.  The reflection that doesn't match the memory.  The memory that doesn't match the moment, the moment that never changes, the sameness worn like a veil across the face.  A mask that cracks only to reveal another mask underneath.  The steaming from a cup of tea that washes over a face, the frosted over winter windows, the silence of the kitchen where laughter once lingered comfortably, the feeling there should be something, but knowing that something else isn't.  The urge to go, with nowhere to go to.  The wont to speak with no one to hear.  The desire to hear answered by silence, or white noise addressing of the television, the radio, all the voices point in a direction that always leads right by to somewhere else where fairy tales of happiness hide their spoils like thieves. 

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