Matt Harris

Polish Poem (2014)

“There are no bugs in Poland,
Too cold and dry you see,
The ground is dead as metal,
No rustling hidden world
Beneath your feet,


“No dry shuffling in the walls
Where countless little legs and feelers
Slither over one another
To make an awful sound in
The space behind your toilet late at night.


“It’s far too cold for that.
It’s all static, still and lifeless,
But for the crows of course,
I’m sure you’ve seen them
Winging slowly round,


“So superior as they drift.
Or shuddering primly on a branch end,
Bastards! they’re everywhere!
Even in this snow, black splodges
Watching with their trustless marble eyes.”


So she told me on the stairwell,
Her sack face ancient
As the crumbling walls,
She must be at least a thousand,
And every day excoriates the crows at length,


Her mouth like a hole in a bag
Flapping. The windows blabber
Whispering wordless gossip
Through their holes and cracks
That ices up the air.


Clambering up
I reach my flat,
Today upon the
eighteenth floor
Perhaps the twentieth by the weekend.


In my flat a featherless, headless
Turkey floats, never bought for Xmas,
And hovering now rejected
Wreathed around in gassy tracings of the
Fetid air, an uninvited guest, until


With a sound like sucking
Holes appear across
Her soft and pulpy breast
And thickly clotting blood
Shoots from every one


In stuttering sticky spurts,
Faster than my frantic mop can
Push it out the door
To freeze shining red and
Slippy down the stairs.


“I’m not as aged as I look!”
Calls the woman as she slides
Out of sight upon the heavy flow,
“I’m just eight hundred
and twenty nine!”


“What’s your secret?” I wildly call,
“Is it rejuvenating,




miracle formula

magical cure?

Or olives or berries

Or regular walks,

Corned beef, green tea,

Or something else



But if she answered, I never heard.
She was sluiced into a bugless drain
And frozen deep within
A dark red sheet of ice.
I’ll never know her secret,


Even as my face begins to fold
And fingers twist, and
Ideas settle in my skull like birds,

And every passing
Day adds one
To my score
Of things undone.


The turkey is emptied, pale, a spent
White withered balloon,
Drained upon the floor, and
Fouler now than
When it still was living,


But at least I get the flat back.
The bare wooden trees outside
Stand idly round and talk.
Dull circular conversations
On esoteric points of grammar.


“Is it ever right for throng to be a verb?”
“Should it truly be none is and not none are?”
Poor things, I think,
The tragedy, you see,
Is every one is deaf,


And none will ever get an answer.
The ground is hard and cold,
Impervious to searching shoot,
The trees sit dry and rootless
On the top, unfastened,


If it wasn’t for the weight of crows,
Sat all along their branches,
They might all be blown away.

All works published, presented or shown by HOAX remain the copyright and property of their respective artists. They may not be shared online without credit to the artist, and may not be reproduced elsewhere without the artist's explicit permission.

Sign up to the HOAX e-newsletter to receive news, events, opportunities and each online work as it is published: