Postcards From Malthusia DAY NINETY-NINE – Tom Phillips

TV Prospectus, Sofia


They’re fucking on the balcony.
Or might be. I can’t tell.
Our whole block’s become
a soap opera, locked in
to these lockdown stories.

If they put a camera
on the crane that tos and fros
above the new apartment building,
they might have a hit
on their lathered hands.

Bats, pigeons, magpies
assume fly-in roles
like characters on the fringe
of a Tolstoyan epic –
they’re hardly unmoved.

A whole structure
of feeling casts about
for a single, simple point
to focus on –
the arrangement of dustbins

or a taxi driver checking
his wing-mirror’s flexibility.
And all the students
have been unleashed
onto the world –

graduating into fabrications
that aren’t of their own making.
I have wished them health,
happiness and success,
as if it was their birthday,

knowing full well
that it’s not.
At best, the light falls
Everything’s aslant

and even the trams
are sluggish.
Along those lines,
there’s no way back
beyond the boulevards

where, tonight, as again,
the tents are out
and the mafia bosses
rest against their shore,
in love with it all –

their tightly held places
like populist retreats
where everyone
offers not much more
than catastrophe agreements.

Tom Phillips lives in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he works as a writer, translator and teacher. His poetry collections include Unknown Translations (Scalino, 2016), Recreation Ground (Two Rivers Press, 2012) and Burning Omaha (Firewater, 2003).


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