Alex Skovron – Prone Gulch

Profile Alex Skovron LE P&W Dec V Two 2018

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Prone Gulch, poems by Alex Skovron

Alex Skovron is the author of six collections of poetry and a prose novella. His most recent book of poetry, Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems (2014), was shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. The Attic, a bilingual selection of his poetry translated into French, was published in 2013; Water Music, a volume of Chinese translations, appeared in 2017; and his novella The Poet has been translated into Czech. A volume of short stories, The Man who Took to his Bed (2017) is his latest publication. (to 2005 only)

Chipped Brick and Old Mortar

Trust your mirror only during moments
when you occupy its attention. With your back
turned don’t assume anything. This is not
a Berkleyan conundrum, nor a paradox

of the type once popular with phenomenologists.
I would advise indifference, if not scepticism,
in all your dealings with mirrors. Recall the tale
of the poet who lost his reflection, his mirror

turning against him, until he began to doubt
his very existence. Finally he smashed the mirror,
but in the suddenly exposed ruins of the wall
behind it he discovered only chipped brick

and old mortar, some panicky ants, the silence
of Schadenfreude. So he accosted a fresh mirror
in another room of his flat and found there,
instead of his absence, an alternative image

with no resemblance to the poet he remembered
himself to have been. In his next poem he observed:
You can’t restore an image that has abandoned
its reflection, because the image is that reflection,

whereas the reflection is not the image.
Or sometimes almost exactly the other way round.

Prone Gulch

So he stumbles into the bar & cantina
(as the sign says) smack in the middle
of somewhere not sure where & so saddle-
sore from his bum-busting Mustang drive
across five hundred k of desert & dust
& cactus-endless redscapes of porcupine
stalagmites erect in the steamy earth

But the first thing he sees as he shoves
the swing-door like a honcho on the hunt
for the second-fastest draw is a honcho
drawn out along the sawdust barlength lino
of this dozy dive stooped over by a dozen
wild-eyed would-be resuscitators who
clearly couldn’t spell CPR   He sidles
over & asks if his help might be of help
so the greenhorns peel apart to lay bare
the bandido   A doc (they divine)   Ah well
it turns out the laid-out lout has lost
not just his footing but his forget-me-not
which is to say the ace of his existence has
stalled dreadful & only a whirly MICA
could turn the wild card to redeem him

Doc straightens up to unholster his iCell
& that’s when the dude behind the counter
counters ‘Not so fast dude’ because just then
a fat hat with a silver star guts the gate
his handcuffs blinging in the leftover sun

© Alex Skovron