Matthew James Babcock

At Once People at the End of Their Lives
April 25, 2018 Babcock Matthew James

At Once People at the End of Their Lives


come from common spaces to move around
the fountains and the flowers of Hyde Park.
They appear early, soundless, as if shod
in slippers of sleepwalkers.  They embark
then pause, each breath the birth of a small god.
Thoughts enter them like planets run aground.

It is the pools of their eyes the time zones
cloud.  They bring skies of rouge from Arkansas,
toy moons from Seoul.  Statues open trench coats
and out shuffle the listless nudes.  Hurrah
for the mumbled chant, the clearing of throats,
for the slower machinery of bones.

Watch the lavender of young orchids drain
from their cardigans. Trace the wet brushstrokes
of thinning blood.  On some subsonic stair
the threadbare amens and the feeble jokes
ascend only to spiral in the air,
leaving no stain or the sound of a stain.

In bright rosebush labyrinths, they converge,
look up, blink, turn, and reverse the dazed prowl.
Unfinished: the cosmic wheel of their dance.
The starved grass crawls.  Archways blacken.  A surge
of sun shatters on patchwork waterfowl
and enters the drowsy eye like a lance.


Matthew James Babcock is the author of two books of poetry: Points of Reference (Folded Word) and Strange Terrain (Mad Hat Press). His essay collection, Heterodoxologies, was recently released from Educe Press. His debut fiction collection, Future Perfect, is forthcoming from Engine/Ferry Street Books. He has received the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award and the Juxtaprose Poetry Award.