File Marshals

Translated by Martin Bennett

Stingy north suns have dried their skin to paper.
Do not make them get up. Here movement spells loss.
Their trouserbacks spinnaker toward noplace.
Voices soft as felt bolster precedent and rule.

Tap-tap-tap, go the flat arpeggios of fact.
The windowsill harbours concussed insects, a cross-
legged cockroach, hecatombs of hyphens, commas, stops.
And yet with leathered gravitas their seats exalt them!

Such shrunken certainties, rustling righteousness,
Strictly earthbound and prickly Thou Shalt Nots
In the tunnels of their gaze you wait, sweat, wait,
Prospects hanging upon a single blink,

A twist of lip…

Martin Bennett lives in Rome where he teaches, proofreads and contributes occasional articles to ‘Wanted in Rome. He has had 3 short stories read on BBC World Service and other work published in Stand, Agenda, Arion and elsewhere. He was 2015 winner of the John Dryden Translation prize.