The Mannequins

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"Those roads that run freeways between
All our souls.
Roads most of us will never cross
Instead we’ll stand and look across our street
Like a lonely Mannequin daring to dream"

The Mannequins


On winter nights

The Antarctic wind

Can be full of razor blades

And it hunts past all these up-for-lease stores

For a homeless soul to cut

Into the grave.

But the clever ones huddle

Around the base

Of the rubbished heart.

A sculpture created

From trash welded together and bronzed into

The Heart of Chapel Street.

And the homeless claim if you sing their story right

Then deep in the night this heart will beat

And their love will keep you warm.

Tonight he lit a cigarette

As she lay curled inside their sleeping bag

And as he looked down the empty street

The tram rails reflected Chapel’s string of Pearls.

And as she coughed, and then coughed again

He could hear those razor blades.

So after placing his cigarette in her freezing lips

He wrapped his arm around her

And with their backs leaning up against the heart,

He sang . . .


Part 1

He was a mannequin in a Bridal hire shop

He’d been wearing his tuxedo for years.

Brought over from France

His look was Valentino’s

Though the sun had long faded

His black painted, plastic hair.

She was a mannequin across the street

In the window of an elegant boutique.

And from her metal stand

To the molded wave in her hair

To him she was the dawn and the sunset

The night’s rain varnishing Chapel Street

A bouquet of flowers being carried between

The space they could never breach.

She was the only reason he had re-woken

After decades keeping his inner eyes closed.

Oh if only he could find some way to reach her

He’d melt the corners of her perfect mouth

Frozen by her maker’s permanent frown

But the way that they had posed her

She stared down Chapel street.

He wasn’t even sure

If she knew

That he was here.

In another world they would be alive

And he’d cross this narrow street

Where with bare feet breaking broken glass

They’d take hold of each other’s hand

Then run off to wherever there was out there

for two Mannequins to reach.

And the first step of their new life

Would be her constant pose

Which looked to him

Like her creator

Had trapped her within

Some forgotten poem.

Yet despite his love being so far-away

He knew down to his joints of steel

that one day things would change.

For in every single hour

that dragged before his blue painted eyes

He prayed to his Great Plastic God . . .

He was praying to him now

As a 78 tram rolled on by

And as the parked, uber-eater drivers dreamt

A young man pasted a sign to his window

that read, “esaeL roF”

The Mannequins

Part 2

The sun painting the sidewalk

Side lit cracks and cigarette butts.

It had never managed to reach her window.

It had never touched her plastic skin.

Today she was dreaming that it was bathing her

In a long and haloed kiss.

Behind her her owners were arguing

Which was all they ever did.

They were grumbling about another rent increase-

Outrageous, greedy. It should be against the law

While down the street the sun-soaked people raced

As if they all had somewhere to go

And their destinations were a constant ache

In here, where we have bones.

And this ache was the sharpest when

The lovers laughed and embraced.

And her solitude would have been too much to bear

If it wasn’t that three times a week

When they changed her dress yet again

She’d see in a mirror a mannequin posed

Like a full-sized wedding cake doll.

He was covered in a dust that she longed to blow free

But today as they roughly yanked her dress off

And one of her owners snapped, Will you please calm down,

She saw that the window was empty -

That her mannequin was gone

And his emptiness travelled deep inside her

Until she felt like she was falling down

And the best reflection to capture all of this

Was her perfectly molded frown.

The Mannequins

Part 3

Look Dad, Gino said

While waltzing the mannequin around the store.

Careful with him, his Dad replied

He could be worth a buck or two.

They’d removed his tuxedo a few days ago,

Then they’d leant him naked against the wall

Where he couldn’t see her anymore.

All he could see through the dusty window

Was the slow, rolling, 78 trams.

But now as he twirled in Gino’s arms

He was able to steal a glance or two

As forlorn she stared,

Completely unchanged

At the poetry

That was Chapel Street.

Then Gino tripped on the rolled-up lino

And together they fell to the concrete floor

That caught the back of the mannequin’s head

With a sharp, plastic crack.

Fabriqué en France, Tony read

The metal plate riveted to the mannequin’s neck

See, I told you he was he was worth a buck or two

But now thanks to you he’s not worth shit.

The Mannequins

Part 4

The night came on so very slow

Like an answer whose question was a sea of stars

And as a rat smelt his pondering face

He wondered if all of these little lights

Were his dreamed of far-away worlds.

Then the old moon peered over the edge of the skip

To find the Mannequin laying upon the trash,

And to the Mannequin the moon was a plastic plate

Serving an old man’s squashed up face.

And in the place where all our hearts ache

An emptiness began to sing

For he knew at once

That this must be

His Great Plastic God.

Will they make it? Or is their love an impossible one?


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