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Korsakoff - Philip Berry

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

the first drink in some rank alley soaked directly to the base of his brain

made him feel good in a way that no other mix of chemistry or love could deliver

he left. the door slammed shut and in his wake a trail of words that poisoned whoever tried to cut a path back into his life

in the angle between building & street he was squeezed so tight by the city’s cold mass the spirit ran out of him in an amber stain

(I saw this but I did not stop)


he raised a dented cup to his stone-grey chin, right hand swerving

as it had in anger, the air between us suddenly compressed while I closed my eyes in fear & hope for the fatal blow

or rare caress

his yellow skin reminded me of the buttercups we picked beneath a pulsing sun, when made-up games played in racing clouds were thrill enough


months later still under cold fluorescent light a doctor explained how the sheaths of his

nerves had fallen away cracked, melted

finally exhausted

so all that he had seen & heard, every connection & every story, the colours of infancy the echoes of laughter, the imprints left

by every goodnight kiss poured out through his soles

and were wiped away by the fat wet fist of a cleaner’s mop.

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