Remember the good one by Caravaggio? The leaves
with scars that spell their histories
on the pallid wall. It told me
do not do; not
do not. Two by two, browning fingers eke
towards the start of something new. (Hideous).
I push myself towards the fruit at the centre
and wait for the rest.
Somewhere (out of frame)
the crowd screams for peace. An apple at each mouth,
puckered with deep kisses. The fall
of I do, I do, I do: grapes in-hand, sour
and still moving, still not quite themselves. The table plots
a sweeping plane across the x axis; raw
and no sound or silence or balanced
but the joy of foot-warm granite. I am uncomfortably finite,
and, like my fist of glossed pulp, fail to distract from the fact that the fruit died weeks ago.
Between the figs and the grapes and the pale
sweet pear, a torched car like a heart. Its beat dwindles
from contracting steal and cracked plastic puddles.
The arteries were cut off
nine days ago, so someone (still out of frame)
is boiling saltwater. Inside the apple
the crowd screams for one more song.
(A wedding in a crater)
(A bombshell for an eye)
(A vacation to war)
A violin plays itself through a closed window
– the air-con turned up full – and a fruit basket
where next-door used to dry their linen, split
open, still empty.
“Still Life” by John Darley was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2016) judged by Mandy Pannett.