“reflection” Dark Poem by Stephen House

murky memories slide in daily
about my muddled stint  
years ago 

i grasp on
but well-prepared

performing my show 
in a run-down bar
to drunk after midnight audiences 
three nights a week 
for a month

a twisted thing
with the body-builder security guard
from the twenty-four-hour club

and the passing friendship with a famous painter 
who i’ve heard has died of cancer
and how one dusk we sat on a silvery lake
in a broken boat 
drinking whisky from the bottle
and making up poems about what we were feeling
in the very there of then 
as a pair of white swans glided with us 
blue heron called above us 
and the sky turned orange-pink and whispered to us 
through our thoughts and words 
if life ended now
we’d know we’d experienced
far beyond what many ever will
a heart-felt bond between two misplaced artists 
un-restrained creative chaos 
and life pushed as far as possible 
regardless of judgment and consequence
by those who live to box and punish

and these hazy fragments i decipher
through anxious bouts of reflection 
crawl closer bit by bit 
i thought they had vanished forever 
and a single tear dances down my cheek 
as a messy recollection of waking up in a dirty gutter 
savagely appears 
shocks to remind me
makes me flush burning hot 

and if you’ve never jumped on a train 
of indulgent destruction 
to find out who you are
and lost almost everything 
to a washy game of anarchy 
punctuated with humiliating dysfunction 
you can never understand 
about coming back 
slowly and gradually

and coming back 
is what i’ve done 
since then
i think

Stephen House has won awards as a poet, playwright, and actor. He’s received international literature residencies from The Australia Council and Asialink. His chapbooks “real and unreal” poetry and “The Ajoona Guest House” monologue are published by ICOE Press. His next book drops soon. He performs his acclaimed monologues widely.



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