Ventriloquism for Dummies


Winner of the 2014 Walrus Poetry Prize

Pine plosives, alveolar carpentry:
my life, lived like an elaborate glove.
Tilt my head, a pale seashell scribed by lathe,
and listen to the few unfurling thoughts,
the dry shake of dust. Semper idem, no?
I loved that girl with the Cheshire-cat grin
inked across the nape of her neck’s vellum.
My hinged digits once traced its glow as if
it were a sliver of moon. Nowadays,
she works nights on an alabaster lake.
My first thought was, he lied in every word,
and I wasn’t wrong. Charlie McCarthy
may be my homeboy, but that suede coffin
became my home. Evenings in the valley,
I dreamed a redwood forest. At its heart
was another jester with a cheap suit
and misplaced mandible. Drop me, toss me,
and I lie limp: a tidal tryst of bleached
branches, a good joke gone bad, or a line
soured by time. Got wood? It’s all I’ve got.
Try not to notice these synchronized lips,
that hoary cripple, with malicious eye.

Michael Prior is a writer and poet. His first collection of verse, Model Disciple, was published by Véhicule Press in 2016.

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