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He’d been left too much
on his own,
not familiar with
why men smiled
or women smoothed their skirts
when they sat down.
He did not know
which spoon to use
for soup,
or how chairs waited
for an accomplice
to their crimes.

No one had told him
a clock
should not be trusted,
or that hats
could read his future
there at the mirror
as he made friends
with his reflection
for the first time
in years.

He did not know
the timetables
for trains
or planes
or how a suitcase
could change his life,
or how a stranger
between his sheets
could make his name
sound like a benediction.

© Pamela Riley 2013


With a central character reminiscent of Chance from Kosinskis Being there, Pamela’s poem “Vacancy” is a comment upon the the interplay between the outsider and the normal world. The central characters isolation leads to confusion with what it is to interact with what to many may seem the most fundamental, everyday actions. The title itself alludes to a life lived in flux, in constant isolation and with an inherent, overarching feeling of emptiness within the soul. In so doing, this piece also emphasises the importance of human contact to make a person complete, but also manages to show the fragile beauty of his soul.

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