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  You could have a big dipper   

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED1981-2003 by Judith Kingston

A poem inspired by Phil Spector’s Wikipedia page

Part 1. Near-fatal accident

No one quite knows what happened.

The day was lying low and the birds in the gutter,

but one step led to another, irrevocably.

There were pills or probably it was rum, too,

some cocktail of unfortunate ups and downs

that set the train on the rails, irretrievably,

Until his foot hit the pedal

and the pedal the floor

and his head the wheel

and his wheels the curb

and his car the pole

and his bumper the sky

and the roof the road.

Part 2. Inactivity

A void.

Before: reckless.

Life sloshed out of the cup, rubbed carelessly

into the sofa, spilling and spilling, enough

for everyone, buy a round, maybe two.

BAM. (See part 1.)

After: Lie. Very. Still.

Do not jolt the cup.

Do not rustle.

Life is a mouse in your cupped hands,

do not startle,

its brittle bones can snap

its heart will stop at the slightest

sign of trouble.

All in all, it is best if you lie very still.

Part 3. Murder

Silence covers the black waters

where near-death stares actual-death

in the eyes.

Where, really, is this line

between air and water, me and you?

Was it you, in that car, the driver,

or was it I, the observer, who died,

did my mind cross over and

break the surface on your behalf?

Am I the penny in your mouth?

Did my last breath snatch you from the waves

and place your two, frightened

feet back on the path you did not

wish to tread?

All I know is I am down here,

vacant eyes tracing your shadow

as you walk away.

I am your secret chapter, the true

tale of these quiet years

of inactivity.


Judith is Dutch but lives in the UK. She specialises in unhelpful advice and shopping lists. Poems in Barren Magazine, Riggwelter, Kissing Dynamite & more. Microchap: Mother is the Name for God (Ghost City Press 2020 Summer Series). Also in Crossing Lines: an anthology of immigrant poetry (Broken Sleep Books). She tweets @judithkingston

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