The Tatter Man

A sinister rag and bone man who used to prey onthe elderly in the early 80s

The Tatter Man


The ad was an anagram
a notice of Death
that let the sentence hang
like a dying breath…

above grim Charon’s raft
a hand-stitched Christ-like saw
sewn in crucifying thread
trailing bloodstains on the floor.

begging, praying, commanding:

honour thy this
and honour thy that
from Genesis to Exodus
and back again –
each pendulum swing
accumulating furniture
accumulating dust
accumulating pain…

Faith squeezed her hourglass waist
but the sand still trickled through
till her penny-weighted eyelids
paid the ferry-man his due…

dog days drowned her dresser
china clowns in frozen mime
photographs and sepia ghosts
of her binding, biding time.

The ad brings forth the tatter-man
when the last cold tear has dried
who frightens you with the flicker
of his candle-burning eyes…

you see long fingers clicking
on her frosted front door glass
you hear death-watch beetles ticking
in his rapid rat-tat-tats…

begging, preying, seducing:

his card is damp with nervous sweat
he talks small-talk about the weather
his tongue unrolls his best offer yet
in the primal screech of monkey-notes
his clothes stink, reek of vulture feathers
as the word ‘no’
Styx in his throat.


© mitch 2023
Views: 1853
critique and comments welcome.
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I don’t think I like that man very much. I really enjoyed the cleverly written lines, and strong atmospheric images it conveyed though. Sue.


came, and read. thanks

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