by Gemma Files



All dials grind down, all displays stop, together.

And now becomes a drawn breath lodged between

the quarter-tick; when gravity fails, everything

falls up. Dust clogs the heart’s dead coils. The skull

becomes a shell, bone carapace stuffed full

of odds and sods, rag-hanks and hair, old fears.

Memories too poison-soft to process fully,

build up like engine-dirt, wax in a hive. You turn it

over, flood the chambers with burnt-rubber stink,

make half a mile more at most, your only fuel

a salt-lick of dried tears. No light left to steer by

but that thalassic dashboard glow, and the road,

the road—grey tarmac rushing away beneath,

traceless, trace-lost. Drive all night, without maps,

only to end up back (exactly) where you were:

Four years to the second, a hundred to the hour.

Time-travel made easy. Loop the road, and then

this stuttery clock jump-starts itself again.



About the Author:

Gemma Files has spent the last fifteen years reviewing films, the last ten years teaching screenwriting and film history, and the last four years raising her son. She won the International Horror Guild's 1999 award for Best Short Fiction with her story “The Emperor's Old Bones,” and the 2006 ChiZine/Leisure Books Short Story Contest with her story “Spectral Evidence.” She has published two collections of fiction (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart, both Prime Books) and two chapbooks of poetry (Bent Under Night, Sinnersphere Press, and Dust Radio, Kelp Queen Press). Her most recent novella is Words Written Backwards, available from Burning Effigy Press. She also writes a column on horror culture, “Cool and Dark,” for http://www.fearzone.com.



Poem © 2008 Gemma Files. Photo by Brian Snelson, 2007.