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I am lost in a world without platforms.
Peering through a blur of squashed fishes
I look in the darkness and find
Nothing but the eye of a needle.

Randomized choice: this is my problem.
Cut free from my timetables, alienated
Into the void of options.
My rectangular certainties
A bifurcating octopus,

In the darkness of nowhere
The trees are punctured by petals
Huge with anthracite.
We cannot build a world
Out of cabbage leaves.
At liberty in the desolation of a collapsed context
I endure.

From a pinnacle of terrifying black
A volitional vomiting of watermelons,
Obsessive compulsive,
Blurts through the night.
Job, house, baby, wife:
A slurry of meatloaf.
Walking on dissolving shadows,
I find my alarm clock,
Swallow it,

And wake.

This poem is from April 2005, at which time, thanks to cancer, the set pattern of my life had collapsed. I ended up in New Zealand, getting admitted to hospital at regular intervals for chemotherapy, while my wife and child struggled on separately in Japan.

In this disordered situation, the imperative which comes to my mind is very simple: rebuild. At the time in which the poem is set, I have options, but, so far, the future is short of form, chaotic rather than orderly, and there are moments at which I feel uncharted, desolated and lost in a fairly arbitrary universe.

This poem IN THE RUINS OF MY COLLAPSED LIFE was first published when posted online by Hugh Cook on 2005 April 01 Friday. Copyright © 2005 Hugh Cook.

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