Fred Johnston

The Origin of Poetry

Forgive the figure curled like a question mark in the corner
no one speaks his language

He tried to read a newspaper and failed, print swimming
like tadpoles in a jar

At night he speaks to Napoléon of empires and dying horses
in the day-room he recalls his wife

She comes as ghosted as a footballer’s memoir, her face a jigsaw
puzzle he can’t resolve

In Occupational Therapy he’s made a basket, a crazy weave
to hold his ashes; he doodles poems

On toilet paper when no one’s around, the paper splits
words sliced and snowing on the pissy tiles.

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