Title: The Death Words

Author: Chris Price

In: Sport 18: Autumn 1997

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, April 1997, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

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Sport 18: Autumn 1997

Chris Price — The Death Words

page 121

Chris Price

The Death Words

Starting with

rictus, the grin of the stuffed
museum cat

then rigor mortis, an equally
stringent aesthetic—

all the good latin words
of dr death, o my string bean

—and memento mori
(alas the stone skull I saw

in the shop window that morning
was gone by afternoon)

and me with no more recall
than some spring thing

some dreadful adjective
like kittenish—which ark

freighted that one in
o my sugar snap?

The lighthouse morses on

about unyielding rigours
of rocks as we catch the slow drift in

page 122

and out. A miracle the whole thing
floats at all, small wonder

that it sinks, widdershins,
countersensical down

the gaping plughole.
The menu blinks, recommends you save

as all unlabelled do the limbo
filed half way

to Hades, irretrievable
as Orpheus only proved—

the singing heads down-
stream, never to be seen

again, but for print's
angry snarl.