The There, There, There by Claire Kelly

For Rob


There, a man down-the-hatches Jägerbombs.
His berserker shriek silent
like it would be in outer space.
The punk band’s pulsations and oscillations—
sound-checking to oblivion—push the room
over capacity with bass and screech. No leeway
for anyone else. Small-talk, love-talk, just plain-talk
jettisoned, weightless debris unlikely to be noted.

There, human forms of binary stars pull
toward their shared centre of mass. From afar
they’re Siamese twins: a single body,
double bright. Unable to lose themselves
to a beat that isn’t their own counterweight swinging,
they lean into each other’s headspace to concoct
pub names: The Roving Lander, The Supernova
and Tan-line, The Mislaid Astronaut.

There, the bartender adjusts her strapless dress
while filling a pitcher, scoops the foam, yanks,
fills the rest. Amps her smile and orbits back,
sloshing her wares as if tonight’s the perigean
spring tide. Round and round all shift,
’til her last-call smile is the comet that’ll soon
clout the Earth into impact winter: Yeah, you may not
have a home to go to, but you can’t stay here.


Copyright © Claire Kelly. Originally published in One Thing – Then Another (ECW Press, 2019).


Claire Kelly has written two poetry collections: One Thing – Then Another (ECW Press 2019) and Maunder (Palimpsest Press 2017). She lives and writes in Edmonton on Treaty 6 territory. Find Claire on Twitter @ClaireElKelly.

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