Mr Snailey

(after Mr Bleaney by Philip Larkin)

This is Mr Snailey’s room. He stayed
The whole time he was in graduate school, still
Finishing electronic course work. Venetian blinds, yellowed plastic,
Fall almost to the sill,
Whose window shows another high-rise,
Crumbling, balconies a haberdashery. Mr Snailey tried
To overlook it was a foreign family unit.
Stove, spitting wok, roaring fan, linoleum floors—
Behind the door, no room for computer parts—
He took it. I know he lies
Where the uncle lay, and stores his grub
In the same shuddering mini-fridge, and tries
Clamping headphones on to drown
The jabbering family feuds at night.
I can guess his habits—what hour he rose,
His sightless greeting each day, rules
He followed to keep from communicating—
The understanding that emerged: an all-terrain cycle
Fastened to the family locker, connecting
A distant institution, widowed mother and ex-wife.
But if he paused and gazed at the digital clock
Noting every changing minute, lay on the unmade bed
Sending a message or searching the internet, and grinned,
And masturbated, and considered
That how we treat others reflects
How we come to understand ourselves,
And if there is more to this existence than a bargain box,
A missing wife and distant daughter, I can’t say.

© ross 2022
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critique and comments welcome.
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I like this piece and your descriptions are vivid. It’s a good study of someone who there’s just enough tension written into it to give the reader something to think upon.

Good to see you posting,


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