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The Machine

Chris McCabe

Lying asleep walking

Last night I met my father

Who seemed pleased to see me.

He wanted to speak.

                      WS Graham




Dad, what are you doing with the machine?

You should have no need of it now you’re dead.

This is my son you never met, connected

This side of the rust. What force of dream

Allows the three of us to push a machine up a hill?

No. It is only to the base of the hill we need to go.

My brother goes ahead, ill-endowed with purpose,

As you stop us with a nerved hand, cubed with gold.

Why are we standing here, the three of us,

You fourteen years dead & my son still a boy? 

Can you come back now? We’ve been waiting for you.

I told my son the story of you & the stale milk.

He’s happy I think, but there’s been a blank piece

For as long as you’ve been gone from this place.

It was Christmas day you climbed that tree

With a hipflask of vodka & a Holla to the wind.

What are we doing with this machine in any case?

As acid as sap the rust has ceased. 

It is stranger than blood that you had to meet

Your grandson across the picket fence of my sleep.

The three of us held on to the machine.

It didn’t lose purchase on the slope.




Dad, where are you taking the machine now?

Is this death when you keep the machine for yourself?

You’ve made us redundant in this landscape, bleatfast with snow.

We watch you attach the machine to a motorway

And punch a first from the window as you speed into orbital.

The machine you’ve taken gave us such purpose.

What are we supposed to do now?   

The keys are clenched in my son’s tight fist.