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Sniper in the Brain (Six Time Signatures)

Keith Jarrett


some times: good times, bad times, bedtimes, Sunday Times, rag time, drag story time, play time…


Two characters, like two hands of a clock, slide along your face:


The longest one, an abstract noun,                                    the shortest, a clown,

or a one-trick magician                                                           (whichever is the kinder description).


Both pull up their sleeves to reveal                                    you are its experimental object.


some times: Quick Time, you and me time, queer time, rosemary and thyme, one time, two time…

You are the target

And you are the prey                                                                         You are its victim withdrawn

To the sniper in the brain                                                                 To the shadows

Vain snip of a thing                                                                            You are the sniped at  

Cutting away at the day                                                                   Slipping away

Till you’re clippered and shorn                                                      Flat line

Unsure of yourself                                                                             Fast-fading anthem

You don’t know you’re born she says.


We are the random blip                                                                  of a three-minute-thirty-two track

like a half-second skip                                                                   of the universe’s melody.


some times: best times, better times, not here for a long time, right place, wrong times, song time…

{everybody sing along!}                                                                  Kisses the girls and makes us all

Time is the melody                                                                           Twisting balloons and then letting us fly.

Our mortality the score

Strum it with your knuckles                                                          Cruel clown the stuff of horror films

And it plays the wanker chord                                                      Won’t you scream and run for the

                                                                                                                 Church congregation screams, she sings 

Camp clown, with fists of love and hate                                   Happy Birthday at your memorial

Carries cheerleader pompoms, 2-4-6-

Clock-bender, so we’re always early and                                Camp clown, pulling down my smile to a

Simultaneously wound, bound to her fate.                            Talcum powdering your black hairs to

                                                                                                               Gay giddy gregarious beast

Cold clown with a party hat crown                                            Chasing us till the day that we rest in

Constantly in motion, won’t sit


some times: full time, half-time, [total eclipse…], dark times followed by mourning time


This is partially an elegy to those we’ve lost to the abstract noun:

[Blank] who never came home from the club

___ who left the chill out in an ambulance van

___ last seen on the way to meet some man from the app

___ another mishap

___ an ill-fated punch

___ unknown

___ fill in your own                        ___


extra times: times table, Times Square, not much time to spare, time off, timeshare…

Young Mother Time                                                                   Borne on the shoulders of history

Nursing you and me, boy                                                         Which was once the future

On the soured milk of our youth                                           Which was the twice-bitten fruit

In the corner of the room                                                        Offered by some serpent in a garden

We should have been grown by now                                   Which grew figs and pomegranates etc.                        


And we became lost in all these vines

We became lost in                                                      one more time

one more time

I’ve known tricksters

Tricksters who wait at crossroads

                                                                                                        Tricksters in costumes split to appear two ways

                                                                                                                          to those who approach from either end


Tricksters that befriend you, lead you to the sea

and then leave you adrift

                                                                                                            Eight-legged tricksters that lift their bodies up

                                                                                                                  through plugholes, crawl along your ceilings

An assortment of tricksters, manipulating your feelings

                                                                          or otherwise effecting miscellaneous mischiefs in the wee hours

I’ve known tricksters

but none quite as slippery as you

                                                                                                                                       Appearing in my bathroom mirror

                                                                                                    where it’s 9:25 (I could have sworn it was still 1993)

Trickster clown, making a mockery of our illusions

sliding along the skirting boards of our living rooms

                                                                                                                You gurn in the club bathrooms, hold our hats

                                                                                                                    while we brace against the bowl of our lives

Trickster pulling up your sleeves to reveal

                                                                                                                                   our names tattooed along your veins

                                                                                     Trickster clown

                                                                              Magician and mortician

We should have all known by now

                                                                                                                                                             We cannot survive you.

[end time]

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