Knowing Kleist by Chris Emery

I am looking over the thin decor of his lodgings and he is listening to the night train, crouched in a vest and boxers. His warm back is to me and I can see the light on his spine in sickle points. He is faintly blistered at the shoulders from last month’s investigation. When he turns to face me I can see his loose smile working free, his lips wet, his tiny teeth parting around a black tongue. He draws his fringe back and the chrome street light highlights his brow, his eyes are absent in red shadows. His eyes are always absent. Everything is so different since the wreckage. I remember him caught in wires, the wires lit up, sagging, wrenched loose in those high branches. There was a sour breeze and the heavy odour of hops or chocolate. I remember distances: twenty feet of bolts and spars; twelve feet up to the soft Y of his body in the tree, hanging there like a doll. Six feet of dark blood on the road in a long December shadow. I remember the clean instructions and the acceleration through the trap. Oh, and that fat sharp light from the first arrivals, so busy with their equipment, tripods here, generators there. Everyone talking and trying to take control, though no one needed to understand the sequence of events or its mediocre ending. I believe everything happens for a reason, but no reason will rescue a person. Two years ago, I met Kleist in a stinking bar in Cologne and I knew instantly that I would fuck him and that I would kill him. Everything else, as my mother would say, is just ungovernable facts.

Chris Emery is a Director of Salt Publishing. He has had three collections of poetry published: Dr. Mephisto, Radio Nostalgia and The Departure. His work has been published in magazines and anthologised in Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe). He is a contributor to The Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing, edited by David Morley and Philip Neilsen. He lives in North Norfolk with his wife and children.


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