Weekend Poetry: Six Poems, After Rachel Whiteread

a series, after Rachel Whiteread

The Window, Painted Steel
thinking about Anthony Caro

In point of fact, I am not looking out of the window
but at the space between the panes

At the back right corner of the old corn silo
I keep a desk and there is a window
obscured by a protective grate
that looks out at a wall of painted green steel
a mere three feet away

If you look up at it at dusk
the grate
the window
the green stays green
but is more a gold-green
with that enamel sheen
you know?

The hum of the woodland
whirring against the concaving wall before me
(the window is off and up to my right like a clock)
makes me displace myself to be quite
stuck between the window and the steel wall of
the outbuilding

And then, on certain days,
it makes me go one step further
to misplace myself between
the panes of the window

Even if I’m not looking out of the window
but between the panes

No one comes looking for me
and I doubt they will

Even if I’m not looking

They try to find me
but how can they

not looking                 but between

But how can they

between          panes

not looking

But how can they
find me
in the space
between the panes
of the window
facing the wall
across the gap
in the far back corner
of the office
in the silo?


On returning from long years spent travelling
all I had to speak of was an accumulation of precious jewels
I would present them on a grey velvet tablet every Sunday
each cut and polished and ready for mounting on a
ring brooch necklace earring
They were all the colours of the sky or water at dawn or dusk
in the deepest depths and slightest shallows
Each had been created at the moment of my repeated murder
in dewy meadows or home-time autumn thickets
the moisture from my stab wounds acting as a crystalliser
And over the second pot of coffee, in front of an audience,
I would gleefully choose which stone I will be buried with.


Chairs II
All of the chairs I’ve ever sat on
I’ve kept from you that I remember
Every chair I’ve ever sat on
And that upon every chair I’ve ever sat
I queried the resonance of the room

This left a residue
Like a glass shadow
Tinted by the aura of the person
In that room
Worth the most to me

Yes, each one is a different colour
No, you’re not listening
Every person has their own aura-hue, singular
Yes, even you
Yes, you’ve been present at the birth
Of each and every one


There’s a stone hot water bottle in my guts
It took the place of the foundations of a being
The doctor wanted to do an extraction and
Display its monumental beauty
But I said “it’s alright, I’d rather carry it”


Why does no one want to talk about how
all doors are temporary stand-ins
never replaced with the real thing?

We experience doors the best we can
but these wall-completers were always
supposed to be works of art.

Why would wood,
devoid of aesthetic rigour,
be the material of choice?

Of course, you’d keep the grain
but not this burnable resource
we’re not in the woods, for goodness sake.

They were meant to be crystal
like wood
but made of ice
but manmade
the greatest aspects of the organic
and the manufactured combined.

Think about it: they’d make the rain throw shadows
of its raining on the walls of the rooms
– and you wouldn’t even get wet!


We can’t have evolved that much –
we still let nature dictate
how the day looks outside the window.

For twelve years I had blonde glass in my frames
for an apocalyptic permanence.
Then: thick midnight slathered on with a brush
for a state of deep two-am for three.
Drizzly-premature-twilight for seven.
And now: concrete grey.

I am beyond all forms of influence.

I ward off that exterior, rotting

Jen Calleja

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