On not getting the job

by Luke Otley

Beyond disappointment;
I saw real fear in the tears
of flashes of future
cold as hands on bed-warm thighs;
of ruby-stained teeth,
a fist-shaped hole in a plasterboard wall,
nicotine stained fingers rough brushing mascara
against eyes soupy and hard,
and silence nasty
as a conman at a bus station
filling every room like gas,
and years
and years of dust
and the feeling that even nature’s
out to swallow you up and crush
what’s left, which ain’t much.

And I’m scared too
of what I see, looking out the window
on a moving train
going the wrong way,
the wrong side of twenty-five
complacent in love
complacent in care
terrified of a lifetime
of standing in takeaway lines
and staring blind through screens,
unable even to tell you what I read,
watched,
liked,
five minutes ago.

Slices of lives tease me in quiet moments;
the delirious rhythm of the baglama,
a chipped bowl of steaming pho,
a mosquito still on a baked white wall
turned apricot by late afternoon;
or the simple weight
of a dog’s head resting on your lap
salted from the ocean.
I tuck them away, these tiny embers,
and stroke your forehead,
desperately damaged but aware,
determined.