The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

2 Poems Published

By Sarah Clancy (Published in issue 23)


It’s the Dark

On this day of halogen and helium

we’re dodging shadows

our eyes squinting against late afternoon sun

but it’s with us despite the whiteness;

it's a hand not held

it's a dark bedroom, in a dark house, on a dark street

that sunshine couldn't deal with

where no one ever thought to leave a light on for us

it's every un-blown birthday candle

it's a school of sorts, an education,

it's a taunting lane with pine trees and a wind channelled down it,

it’s the terror that made our fat legs pedal faster-

made us flee it, as if

in the bright lights of the kitchen hours later we still

wouldn't feel it 

it’s that car journey we didn't want to go on

those other headlights sweeping past in freedom

and our relentless windscreen wipers beating rhythm

to the place we swore we'd never get to

on a morning night wouldn't relinquish,

it's a bridge in an inferno crumbling

and I can tell you there's no crossing back over 

it's the confessional where we don't know what to say

or even who to answer

it’s a hundred pagan folk memories;

persisting because they never tried to conquer it

because it's the dark

it's the dark

it's the dark

and it's best to leave it be.




Blame Walt Whitman


I should never have brought you to sit on these dunes in all their

kitsch holiday bleakness, I know this is a place that hurts you but

at least you know it, and I should have refused to take you down

streets looking for the Santa Muerte when those were my own

dark journeys, or to the port in the evening where things feel

different, nothing there is female but maybe that’s what I wanted

to show you, I can’t believe I took you to look at children’s corpses

when it’s my buzz to name the dead and most days I know it has

less purpose than scrawling ‘I was here’ on the brutal walls that

will outlast me, and you with that conflicted DNA hardwired

your essence would be to sharp-tongue it, you’d call it an experiment

in detachment to touch those baseball caps and soiled jean legs

with my own fingers and not in turn be touched and I can hear

you say; will that be your epitaph Sarah, nothing touches you?

But I know in our connection you’ve only got more gentle words

for me no matter if I’ve never earned them, and in fairness you were

with me when I sat and watched white-lime letters spelling ‘Tito’

carved out on a sickly green hill in a country so pastoral you could

see why violence just might be the antidote, maybe anything is better

than triteness? And putting my hands in sun-warmed war-damaged

pock marks on sandstone buildings in that split city Mostar, you called

it escapism and shook your head but you wrapped two arms

around me from behind from across those misnomer peace walls

that are your geography and I wanted you to do it –that means

something, doesn’t it, even if it’s only back ground music?

Or that day I showed you the Lipizzaner horses and you said nothing

but I knew you were thinking what has she got against comfort

and so I said I know with all the things I’ve done, this might sound

like hypocrisy but if I had my way I’d set them all free and in

the fakeness of bad wine and literary conversations later, you said

there’s not one true thing here and winked that if you’d your way

you’d set them all free and let freedom be their new poetry and I

guess its faith of some kind when you never ever asked to be

brought with me to places I hadn’t any need to go but I took you

to the Cafe de la Habana where you told me to go a bit easier

on myself and it’s funny how I couldn’t bring myself to listen

even though I wanted to hear it, so I went down Reforma

and dragged back the young man you were curious about and

I fucked him on the floor for you because you were curious and

because it was easier than hearing him say so much nothing

and it cost me very little except the sound of a downpour that would

have been better heard alone and if I said what I remembered

of our encounter it’d be the drone of one persistent mosquito who

might or might not have been responsible for the purple bruises

on my neck that made me think of you after, and I did it as a way

to break your dead grip on having said forever and discovering

you’d never meant it and sometimes physicality is easier than

to listen to you talking, I don’t know if it was vicarious when I couldn’t

be bothered reporting how the evening light caught on his alabaster

haunches and how so alone you can be when you don’t feel anything

except the ebb and flow of pulses and I know you’ll get me when I

say for that one it’s fair to blame Walt Whitman and you came with me

to where the glass shatter sirens and songs of revolution choked you,

those lines of union workers singing The Internationale in the dead heat

of a random Sunday in two thousand and eleven? When they

clench fisted in unison you whispered that you couldn’t see anything

true in it and I said so let’s set them all free you and me and on

the strength of it I bought you those carved out imaginary animals

from a street child but then I never sent them because in all the things

dissolving that I was certain of, I was unsure of their welcome

and in New York we all absconded down through streetscapes so

familiar that it felt like trying to swallow something when my mouth

was empty maybe trying to swallow the idea that me the unbeliever

the heretic believes that you’ve been with me all this time and in

all these places on the strength of one slim every day connection.