Enter Home Planet News Poetry of Issue #6                         Page 19
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RADIO OFFICER

"It sounded like leaves
Stirred by ancient winds
- And then silence"

Control said it was a shipwreck
Caused by a typhoon
In the China Sea

Missing for six months
Maybe more
Time grows distant
In times of war
My mother said he was gaunt
When he got off the train at Waterloo
- You could see his skeleton
Through his skin
Glowing with a cold blue light

Information
Received in Dead Sea code
He'd been sent on a mission
- A deep drop
Beneath all reach of sonar waves
A response to certain
Radio transmissions
Coming from an unknown source
Somewhere along the Pacific Rim

It seemed there were indications
Of forces massing on the edge of Time
- Basically the end
Of everything we knew
Action was critical
Across the world engines of memory
Were shutting down

Looked at coldly now
It may have been just another sideshow
Of some eternal interstellar game
Far beyond the range
Of human comprehension
And it's hard to say
Whether it was ever
Really won or lost

On his return
For a while he still moved
In the light of day
But the darkness
That he'd fought against
Had entered through his eyes
And grew silently within

He became a stranger
To all who knew him, a recluse
In an old house
On an ordinary street
In a seedy seaside town
Long, shoulder length white hair
A shabby dressing gown

As a child I saw him once
A hunched and hidden figure
Cleaning his service revolver
At the kitchen table
As a thin pale wife
With oyster eyes
By the name of Hilda Pin
Ghosted from room to room

He had a hobby
Making detailed models
Of clipper ships
In his discarded whisky bottles
But though it was said
The house was searched
From chimney to the ground
After he had gone
None of them were ever found

I don't remember going back again
And when I heard that he had died
I wasn't even sure
That he had ever really
Lived at all
Except inside that other land
And is there still
Reached only
On some lost wave band


  William Corner Clarke