Matt Miller – The Scientist – Headline Show re-draft

22 Jun

I have another draft of this to follow but dunno if I’ll get it done tonight, so for now, here is this:


Hello. I have been here for years.

Waiting for this water to unspill.

Eventually, I know that it will.


An experiment in displacement.

I placed a glass of water on a table.

Still, inactive, held close

within its container, it was nothing

but pure potential. And I couldn’t believe

that in the middle of that unrippling brag

there was no seething, bubbling boiling pit,

no anger and spit, no need to be somewhere else.


There it stood, unmotionless, smiling, taunting me.

I’ve tried, but I cannot believe in its transparency.


I surrounded it with friends. Arbitrary objects

from my shed. Plant pots with crude faces,

sawdust shavings, tangled remains of last summer’s

wasp nest. I surrounded it, here on this desk

with unmoving amounts of love.


And still it did not move.


So I removed all of its companions, placed it high

on a shelf, away from everything. I watched it,

wanted to see it sob, to send globules of itself tumbling

down the sides of its skin, but still it did nothing.


There had to be a catalyst. A stone.

I feel like I knew the consequences

as I stood, pinching the pebble between

my thumb and forefinger

above the surface

of the water.


I am a scientist.

Everything is outside of me.

I do not know absent.

I do not know lonely.

I know only subjects, objects,

reactions, experimentations.

There is no way to know limits

without breaking them.


I am insignificant, inconsequential,

my past is my past and not a

sequential narrative to be examined.

Everything is outside of me.

I cannot be damaged.

I cannot be unpacked, I have no


When I dropped the stone into the glass,

the liquid moved from one place to another,

sloshed upwards,


grew stagnant on the wooden surface

until it smelled


like kitchen equipment,

the wok bought for me

on my eighteenth birthday,

packed into a suitcase, slung

into the boot of mum’s car,

waiting outside, until it smelled


like a failed experiment in love

a failed forray into connection,

until it smelled


like the corridors of a flat

in which I had known people,

until it smelled


of your breath on quiet mornings

until it smelled


of your lips, until it smelled


of lactic fear seeping from between my ribs,

the sweat that leaked from my knuckles,

the plea to stay I sought from your open eyes,

until it smelled


of transferred responsibility,

of unwashed blankets and folded knees

at two in the afternoon for days,


I hated the stench of that spill,

but could not look anywhere else.


Some Sundays I reach out a tentative tongue to taste

the rotten texture of nostalgia, allow it to form a coat

across my pallete, infect my vocal chords with could,

with should, with then, with when? With, it doesn’t matter now.


Outside of this shed, I’m aware of the passing of days.

Yesterday, I managed to look out of the window for a full hour without thinking.


I have been here for years.

Waiting for this water to unspill.


Eventually, I’ve learned that it won’t,

and that the past is an addiction, a liquid that,

no matter how sour, begs a quick lick now and again,

a drug, a salve to wipe the varied taste of the present.



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