Small-time Spectre

He located his fireman’s shirt, Grandfather’s herringbone jacket, 
fisherman’s hat and softly lantern jaw and while the lovers ran 

backwards in their sleep, hailed a cab to practise losing himself 
once more, parked on my street. And that’s where I found him, 

lodged in that many-pocketed place he goes while cab drivers who 
speak of Islam keep the engine running and their gazes branching.

A kerb-side Russian doll with a cap of painted hair unpacking 
the roll of fifty dollar bills, the wardrobe changes, the footage 

of kitchen ghosts caught like a draught between the window and 
the sill: small-time spectres who never wished to be committed 

to tape, managing as I hold the passenger door, to slip down the back 
of the seat, back into un-being where try as he might he cannot go after.

Miro Bilbrough was born in Wellington in 1963. After graduating from Victoria University with a BA in English Literature she began publishing prose poetry, appearing in the debut issue of Sport (Spring 1988) and in numerous issues of Sport and Landfall since. Small-time Spectre, her first poetry collection, was published by Kilmog Press in 2010. In 1990 she moved to Sydney, Australia, where she teaches screenwriting and makes films. Films that she has written and directed include Urn (1995), based on one of her published poems, Bartleby (2001), an adaptation of the Herman Melville novella, and the short feature Floodhouse (2003). Her feature film Venice is scheduled to shoot in Sydney in September 2011. The title character, an expatriate New Zealand poet living in Sydney, contains only middling levels of autobiography.

Bilbrough comments: ‘“Small-time Spectre” is a portrait of an actor and of the several encounters I had with him during the casting for a film. The actor was a tantalising character. He was as unreliable as the chemicals he was addicted to, and the random moments he liked to digitally capture and subject you to on playback. Once such moment was a ghost he’d filmed in his kitchen but could not locate on the tape. Ironically I never captured his qualities on film because after being offered the part, the actor, quixotic as ever, withdrew. Badly fascinated I wrote the poem.’

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