a ladder cannot be convinced to climb down from itself | red-prayered | pear | peach


Nathan Shepherdson

Photo credit: Alessandra Capodacqua

a ladder cannot be convinced to climb down from itself

. i watch him knit a mirror with his eyes

watch him cast the first stone into original memory
to see it skim towards the same mirror
now propped up against the horizon
shattered like glass fingernails from a wailing wall
as we ourselves alternate as gold teeth
exploding inside this mica mouth
spines smelted into the slightest answers
inside our own ears floating in open ocean
as wishing wells for the drowned
as deep as any word our heads pop up
to compete for the dot on the i in genesis

your licence to create the opening dream sequence has been revoked

enclosed are the instructions
on how to design a life
while walking the dog
so it can sniff out the bones
in your own grave

)…strike gently away from body…(

in a downbeat of the psyche
your necklace lets go
scattering toes & fingers
in Bren gun slow audio
across the heirloom oak table
in another Pacific War drama
shot through a Vaseline lens

)…strike gently away from body…(

you stop in at the dry cleaner
to collect your skin only to be told
that the stains cannot be removed
without extra cost and that the only currency
accepted in this establishment is the soul

)…strike gently away from body…(

this list is predetermined:

  1. stand here while your tongue is dissolved in water
  2. spend more time teaching dust to speak
  3. permit yourself to learn the botanical names of lies

without regret
i fall into my father’s mouth
sucked back through his cigar butt
spat onto his bullock’s eye

his eyelids become trampolines
rebounding one eternal seed
between here & hereafter
blindsided he sees everything
in his wake

the soft grenade in his hand
contains no messages for the future

i watch him separate each lip of its colour
before these words form

)…strike gently away from body…(

orbiting shadows
intervene with grace
in a burning wheelchair

to let down what we couldn’t lift
to let down what we couldn’t lift

you catch yourself wading
through your own ability
to scold the light

you take aim
at the world
with one thought
& realise you are
the target ←

you catch yourself wading
through your own ability
to scold the light
for being silent

)…strike gently away from body…(

how to replace the washer
to stop blood leeching into the cloud
above your head

do you remember
how we would hover
above each other in sleep

how we perfected the art
of waking up in the wrong body
at the right time

in our blinking
our jellyfish propulsion
through evolution

i was the first person in history to close a door .


for sandra selig

/in suspending yourself
as a red line
to such an extent
that you are no longer


because you are there/

/i send myself
to the corner
to face the wall/

/i imagine my veins
in the same configuration
of what (you) see/

/i imagine the smoke
coming from your eyelashes
as you sleep/

/having tapped the head
of each nail with this question


could describe the hammer/





he ate the Morandi pear

its skin
bruised with immaculate

its flesh
using his tongue
as a brush




my father sings to a white peach

in the hope it will ripen

his fingers
unable to think
for themselves