Test Card


Test Card

At first you seem to be sitting
White shirt
White Jacket
Your eyes sashaying towards us
Like an invitation to go somewhere quieter
And we don’t know whether to be thrilled
Or terrified
Right at the moment you are not drinking
But it seems clear you do drink
The glass sat in front of you
And your hand is raised to chest height
Your thumb resting gently on the side of your chin
And it’s held in your hand
Your finger poised languorously on the trigger
it seems so small
like a water pistol
or an effortless one-liner
And your smile is the smile of someone who knows how this is going to end.

Later you’re joined by a friend
And things aren’t quite so neat any more.
The two of you run towards us
Shoulders hunched
Eyes squint
Leaning into some unseen storm
You are covered in dirt
the suggestion of cuts and bruises
Your dusty and unbuttoned jackets hang open like a resignation
Or an apology
But your hands are moving fast
As fast as they can
Trigger fingers on both hands
squeeze and recoil
Squeeze and recoil
We can see the whites of your teeth
Your mouths caught in a rictus of effort
A final exhalation
A last great hurrah.

Your friend has gone now
Which might mean that he has gone gone
It’s hard to say
Certainly you don’t seem happy about it
Your mouth is impassive
And your eyes unlistening
But your eyebrows are folded together in the middle
Into a wrinkle of impatience
Your suit is smarter again now
White shirt
Maroon waistcoat
Grey blazer
You are considerably taller than us
The curtains in the windows behind you are closed
The bricks are large and austere
They change colour halfway down the building
There is a powerline
Perhaps for a tram
Or some other kind of street car
We are doing everything we can to try and ignore the gun you are pointing directly at us.

Here you are then, one last time
No longer looking at us
But instead staring through a gap your hand has made
Between two curtains
They could be the curtains from slightly earlier
I don’t know
You stand square to us
Legs apart
But your head is turned to one side
Showing us a profile that could be made from poured concrete
White shirt
Light suit
Thin tie like a jazz man
Thick framed glasses and close cropped hair
You hold it with your spare arm
Finger on the trigger
The butt resting carefully on your hip
The barrel raised like a flagpole
Like a proclamation
And in truth
Though we are undoubtedly frightened
Though you are undoubtedly
It would be impossible to say that you look anything
Other than amazing.


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