Charon Ushers in the Cinephiles

Theo Best


I used to have a boat, an oar
a robe slung over one shoulder.

I used to have a beard
of bubbled wrack,
and the thunderheads
would gather round
whenever I called names.

The dead?
They used to queue for years
to be paddled across
the irrelevant waves.
That’s all below me now.

I work my shift in this Odeon.
I lift the corners of my mouth and vow
that once you’re in you may come out,
go in, come out , go in and wait – no glass,
no drunks, no children. Are you buried?
Steady, it’s a simple slope down
but it does go down
toward music and voices
muffled as if heard
through the membrane
of a uterus.

My palm as your guide, I finger
the furred wall as you fade,
then turn back to brush
your faces in the carpet
with my shoe.

You’re late.
You’re cold.
You’re stumped by the rows and aisles.

You puke.
You faint.
You shit to block a bowl –
no pork gelatin too trodden in,
no disintegrated Butterkist
a match for squat, red Henry –

with a black bin bag and a blue glove,
a Maglite and a lanyard –

I am Staff.
I service the worlds either side of these doors,
one stub per soul to prove you alive
should the fires break out and I evacuate you.

Think twice by the handrail.

Recount with me
comforts of car interiors,
tooth whiteners,
the dictum that dirt is good.

I, too, shuffle down this corridor
having kissed good night
the friend with the empty glass.

I, too, stop rustling
as the lights are dimmed.

The difference being
I need no ticket
for the privilege.




Theo Best is an English poet living near Cologne, Germany. He got his MA in Creative Writing (poetry) from The University of East Anglia, and his work has appeared in journals such as Stop Sharpening Your Knives, Lighthouse and Ink, Sweat and Tears. As a performance poet, he has also been supported by Apples and Snakes and The National Centre for Writing. His website is