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The Man with the Twelve O`clock Shadow

by Mark Callanan 

Posted: 13 July 2004
Word Count: 185

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Doesn't shave much anymore, has cut himself too often
to keep his fingers steady on the blade; wears big hats that
shade out his eyes; is often broken in love, then scattered;
falls down when he walks, so watches carefully before he treads;
drinks a pint of whiskey a day for his health and carries
a six-pack of heat on his hip in case of trouble.
And he's always looking for that.

Trains don't run where he comes from
and the horses are all ship-ribbed with hunger.
There's a woman he left behind, of course,
with breasts as big as brass spittoons and
hair the colour of coins on a dead man's eyes.
But he never thinks of her anymore without reaching
for the straight razor, so he doesn't.

The sun, staring down on a scene with him
placed in a tavern, or on his back
in the middle of the red-dirt road, alone
can predict how long it is until he falls again.
No one else here knows his name.
The vultures, thick and liquid in the evening air,
are dreaming of his bones.

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Comments by other Members

roovacrag at 21:48 on 13 July 2004  Report this post
Mark ..different poem. Loved it. Wasn't expecting this.

Howled with laughter at the line..............
breasts as big as brass spittoons.

Heard some things in my time but this was the best.

Well done.
xx Alice

joanie at 09:38 on 15 July 2004  Report this post
Mark, I found this very poignant.

I love the imagery of 'horses ship-ribbed with hunger' and 'vultures thick and liquid'.

A sad picture, well painted.

Welcome to WW by the way -


tinyclanger at 17:19 on 15 July 2004  Report this post
Hi Mark,
"ship-ribbed" is just wonderful!
enjoyed the rest too...
Hope to read more soon,

scoops at 17:03 on 23 November 2004  Report this post
Mark, My expectation of poetry is that it is more abstract than prose, yet at the same time, more precise. One misplaced word or punctuation point can skew the effect of the whole, or raise the piece to untold heights. To be able to write good poetry is truly a gift, and both the poems you've uploaded on this site are rich in language and imagery, profound in content and observation, and effortlessly graceful. I'm most envious:-) Shyama

didau at 17:09 on 13 June 2010  Report this post
Great - loved those 'ship ribbed' horses

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Other work by Mark Callanan:      ...view all work by Mark Callanan