Chris Tysh: Turnstile

  Chris Tysh

  Turnstile: the Postcard
  from Socrates to Freud
  a n d       B e y o n d

  JPR 08

Jagged edge of evening like unevenly spaced streetlights, fewer cars, elongates

An already long sentence beyond recognition, its referent laissé pour compte, forlorn and off-

Center yet again reluctant to carry meaning’s cashbox anywhere near your native tongue

Quasi stranded against the sender’s folly to write in bed as if on a sea voyage, whitecaps

Unfurl flags of surrender, a brise marine sweeps upper decks where the addressee

Ends up pressing her face against a love letter like a fiancée in a silent film

Strange to think of that interminable post now passing through mailman’s hand like a mirror


Destined to shatter old idioms in their mouths over their heads deep in the weeds

Everywhere the smallest difference hails us poorly spelled yet making sense in the bitter

Realm of the word we’d follow fumbling or skipping between sense barrier and its sound

Receding now that we are at the station so little time to decipher your lips’ vernacular

I’ll leave en tête de train as you slip away in the crowded morning mass a photograph

Did not record this moment’s oddities nor our forgetting to smile: “It don’t mean a thing if it

Ain’t got that… (Duke Ellington, 1943); one at a time, a likeness of tears, vanishing


The reader’s task collapses ‘round her skull, hours squandered pounding on a door, words

Hard to pronounce or buffeted by strange syntax, the eloquence of chance, an amulet to guard

Everything buried from reaching its point de bascule in the machinery of the text


Prior versions deleted without ever totally gone from the hard drive, a bardo of sorts

Other than a precaution in the face of ghosts having something to say against their naked selves

Single sheet apt to slide along a narrow bed where each broie son noir like a muddy cup of woe

There will be mornings turned toward clouds passing beside us, documentary yet fictive at once

Crypt or trace, drift or graft it’s always already, as you like to say, an impossible beginning

A margin on the wet sand we tread on erasing signs in order of appearance as if the sea foam

Repositions a line’s tonic stresses, measure by measure, à la rencontre des courants

Depending on the agitation of the waves, cursive letters a little wobbly, a little different


Freudian slip it’s called or parapraxis like misreading whorl for whore or rogue for rouge

Rumored to let our trickster unconscious its portion of gaffes, sitting behind a prompter’s box

Once tongues leave the inverted groove, cuing each word across a tangle of roots and cords

Massacring what we meant in the first place, a kind of roulette that spins the ball awry


Socrates lies in reader’s lap, a spot of skin inked there mid-inner thigh, half-forgotten script

Once holding such clout, whole paragraphs with blue highlights remind her she’d understood

Crushed it, as the kid said about a Nietzsche oral, now she daydreams on the banc des amoureux

Recomposing every passing face that retains another arabesque a whole corps de ballet

Above the ramparts, tent city, some protesters’ slack limbs extend every which way

To supplant alternative facts we are rerouted, brought back to a language of insurrection

Ever so inevitable for all of its fiery summons, this is the coin we speak of when we find

So many pièges à cons within the daily accordion, its pleats grown slicker with each squeeze


The benign obsolescence of address, outmoded charm of the baisemain

Once de rigueur in certain spheres, a mere appendix now to the sex archive


From then on the store of drives stays open round the clock hoisting its iron shutters —

Rideau de fer to us francophones — only to let in ego’s other tenant just shy of a vertigo

Episode, always a suspect groping one’s mind for the proper switch to revive old memories

Unaugmented and bereft, really rows of sorrow the viewer’s eye takes for puddles and mongrel

Dogs: left to wonder how one could dream up such a ghastly little shoppe of rubbish


Amid the supposed drama of wrenching a tale from its framing device, assassin hand

Never far off a paternal function — nom-du-père — sets the stage for what’s to come

Down the ramp: in the faint glimmer one drops a pin between an event and its imaginary end


By the time you jump a turnstile, the train’s long gone and la salle des pas perdus

Echoes voyagers’ disquiet collapsed on the quay in a cinematic pan we read as

Yet another disappearance inherent to a certain text — a box of wiles sprung

Open over the scrap heap of gender lines evanescing as if swallowed by a fog machine

Night descends upon the world’s blurry pronouns, a rim of lights all flushed and newly bright

Down to dolly tracks that glide across the set like a band of hoboes across the continent


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