Poetry: Philip Quinlan


A Red Dress, Falling

A red dress, falling: out of love,
her life assumed the vertical;
she plummeted, more hawk than dove,
with wings that went beneath the air.

A red dress, falling, promising
herself it wouldn’t hurt at all:
God only knows, but couldn’t prove
himself; she fell devoid of care.

No shout, no scream, no shutter fell;
we memorised her ending
in the corner of an eye, and wondered why
and why it was that day she chose to die.

There must be easier ways than this, we said,
though nothing simpler,
letting go the fragile thread. But here? Or there?
And when? And then there’s all the choosing what to wear.

A red dress? Falling through the air,
with false immodesty she dove;
it wasn’t that she didn’t care –
she sought the void, devoid of love.

That day dawned nothing, dreamed itself
awake to unexception, then
she chose a red dress (not in vogue)
to keep her date, despite despair,

with destiny, the double-dare
of gravity,

the fall that made the fabric tear–
the woman who became a star.


Beauty is truant
and truth is a runaway;
suddenly signs are
that something’s unravelling.

Moon at midday,
the man’s talking in monotone
not meant for anyone;
no one is listening.

Somebody swept up
the sun spilt in alleyways;
all that was broad,
like an artery, narrowing,

starving the heart
till it hardens. The man’s alone;
moon mood is on him
and summer is shivering.

Nothing’s the same thing
that something was yesterday;
backstreets are everywhere,
none is worth following.

The rains have come early,
he weeps for no reason known,
just something slipped slightly,
altering everything.

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