Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado
Friday, April 29, 2016
 
Ten years on....


      *

 Secure


Today I’m as fragile as the sky. The newspaper says that prisoner planes are busy in the European
skies and I put the paper down. Reading about those planes has made me hot. I put too many t-shirts
on this morning. I’ve done so much wrong in my time that it can only be a matter of time before they
come for me and it’s making me sweat when I read about people being arrested and flown to places
to be tortured. The thought of having someone torture you just to see what it is that you are thinking
makes me sweat. I said as much to Straw. I told him that. You know what the crazy bastard said to
me? He said that you can’t beat a bit of red in photographs!

“What photographs?”

“These.”

And he put three photographs down on the table. He’s torn them from some magazine or other. It’s just
like him to tear them out rather than cut them out. I said that to him. I said why do you tear them out? I
did. I asked him that. I said you’re such an impatient bastard, why didn’t you cut them out and
make them nice neat rectangles
? He said all this, and he pointed to the ragged bits of magazine around
the edge of the photographs, all this gives a context that isn’t available to us otherwise. And around
the edges of these photographs there are bits of stories and exhortations and advertisements from
the magazine he’s ripped the pictures out of.

“Look at this for instance,” he says, and he shows me the edge of one photograph and there’s part of a
little column advert which says
Do you need money?
Yes?
Your worries are over, just…

Straw is writing away in his notebook. I asked him what he’s writing and he says he’s writing down
proof. He says he’s writing about how taking part in the world is a game and that it has to be played.
It’s all been decided long ago. He says that things have tobe remembered and things have to be
forgotten and that this remembering and forgetting is automatic in healthy people.

“That’s all mental health is,” he says.

He’s writing in his notebook that he knows the rules of remembering and forgetting but that
he just can’t do it properly and so he just looks foolish playing it. He says it’s for Doctor Wilson,
this writing.

“Wilson wants me out of here. I know he does. He thinks I could take it out there. But I’m not fit.
What could I do out in the world but crumble? This place isn’t so much better but I know what happens.
I remember and forget better in here too. He thinks I’d survive out there but I won’t, I know I won’t”

I don’t like it when Straw talks like this. He wants to stay ill. That’s what I tell him. I tell him he’s afraid
of getting better. He tells me he’s the sanest person he knows. He says that Wilson is one of the craziest.
But having said that
, he says, there’s not much in it anyway. For any of us.

“How do you like the photographs?” he asks.

I can hardly bear to look at them. I’m so fragile today that anything that fascinates Straw is probably
going to terrify me but I don’t say that. I change the subject. I tell him that I just don’t like Doctor
Wilson. I tell him that in my opinion it’s not about sane or crazy, it’s about nice or not nice and I don’t
think Wilson’s nice.

“People like that shouldn’t have any power over the lives of other people. They don’t know what it is
to be human. They only know what it is to be them,” I say.

Straw gathers the three photographs from the table. He rips two of them into shreds and puts the other
one back onto the table.

“I’ll just keep this one,” he says. “The red in this is the best. If you have three photographs you like
you should tear two of them up. You know Wilson’s trouble? When you watch people all day you
realise that someone is watching you too.”

He looks at me. “But you know that,” he says.

Doctor Wilson comes and sits alongside us. “Enjoying a nice cup of tea, chaps?” he asks.

Straw closes his notebook and pushes his cup away.

“It’s horrible tea here.”

“Why drink it then?” asks Wilson.

“Because it’s what they give us,” says Straw.

I can smell the antiseptic hand-wash that Wilson uses after he’s handled files. I wonder if he’s been
looking at mine.

Wilson talks about the trees…the ones over there, beyond the window…he says that he hadn’t
realised (jesus!) how many greens there are in them. I try to not let it show anywhere on my face
that I’m thinking how incredible it is that he should say that. This is a man who looks for clues as
to what ails us. He spends his life doing that. He’s the senior man here. When I first came here they
told me that Wilson is good at this job, very good, so it seemed odd to me that he should have said
that. It seemed odd that he could have sat here and drunk so much coffee every morning break and
every afternoon break, facing those trees over there, and it had only just occurred to him that a line
of trees can have so many greens in it.

Wilson turns and looks at me in that way that I don’t like. He looks at me and waits just that bit too
long before he says anything. It always feels as if he’s already listening to me before I’ve even said
anything out loud, as if he’s already got hold of me like some shell and has me held up to his ear. He
catches me off guard when he says, “Do you know what I’m thinking?” because that is exactly what
I’m thinking. I’m thinking does he know what I’m thinking?

“I’m thinking,” he says “that you and I will go to the ground floor and you can bring your camera and
take photographs. You take some interesting shots I hear. They tell me that it’s your hobby. I’d like to
see what it is that you see down there that seems important enough to you to document.”

They told me when I first came here that Wilson always want to take you down there, down to the
ground floor, to see how you do, but I never want to go there. I know I’ll feel ill there. I’ll get dizzy.
I won’t like the air. I’ll worry about the time. Or I’ll worry about whether it’s dark outside yet. I’ll be
thinking that when I finally get out of there everyone in the rest of the world will be gone and the
streets outside will be as empty as some of the corridors we see on the monitors in here late in the
evening. There are no clocks down there. They don’t want you to worry about what time it is. There
are no windows. They don’t want you to think that it’s time to be going. They don’t want you to think
of a view you know of, a place where at the time the clock may show there will be lights going on in
houses across the fields from where you could be standing if you weren’t here. They don’t want you to
know how much of the day has been lost.

They want you to think that all there is in the world are shops and cafés and escalators and crowds
and cameras and plastic cards and coins and impulses and the smells of people and the smells of
scents and chemists and papers and food. But there’s anxiety down there, I know there is, and in
enclosed spaces like that it’s infectious. And there is some portion of people down there with no
other thought than to do what they are encouraged to do and some portion of people with no other
thought than to steal. And there are one or two people in every corridor ready to explode. And these
one or two will have no idea that they are the ones who are dangerous today, and they will want to
explode next to me. They will want to take their faulty remembering and forgetting out on me and I
won’t know what to do.

“What do you think of that idea?” asks Wilson, and I don’t know if he means what do I think about
his suggestion or what do I think about what his suggestion has made me think.

I wish he’d said why are you here? instead. I could have said then that I was sent here and that I didn’t
have any choice. They don’t give you any choice. Some guy with a few O-levels looks at the paper in
front of him and sends you here and that’s it. But Doctor Wilson knows that and he doesn’t care about
that. Wilson doesn’t like whingers.

So I don’t say to him that I don’t know anything much about photography. I don’t. You probably
know more than I do. All I know is what looks mysterious to me and I know what makes me agitated
and I know what that French guy said about a photograph being invisible. But that’s it. Marsham, the
guy who ran away on his very first day here, after the breakfast break, seemed to have a point. He
said that morning, with a mouthful of croissant, that a photograph is a miniscule section of the world
and that’s all. But Doctor Wilson thinks that the pictures we take are all that’s important. He thinks they
tell him all he needs to know. At least I see what Straw means by context. Wilson doesn’t. But he
doesn’t have to. It’s not his job to consider that.

Wilson gets up. He looks at Straw. “I’m seeing you later, aren’t I?” he asks.

“The letter from the office says three o'clock,” says Straw. I can feel that Straw feels like a child who
wants to beg Mummy, no, please, no.

Wilson looks at him in something like the same way that he looks at me. He looks at him as if he’s looking
at his face so he can describe it later in very great detail, even how much it may measure from hairline to
chin, from ear to ear.

Doctor Wilson points to the table. “Bring that photo you’ve torn out of whatever it is you’ve torn it out
of. We can talk about it.”

He says that he’ll be back soon to take me downstairs. I feel sick. I feel as old as a chair and I feel like
a child who’s been told of a new punishment. I pick up the photograph that Straw wants me to look at.
I want to be in it, between the camera and the furthermost background, so I can take my mind off
how fearful I am. The sky is so white today, like the surface on the inside of an eggshell, that you can’t
help worrying about what is really on the other side of it.

Straw is excited. He likes it that I’m looking at the photograph. He thinks I’m showing an interest
in something that interests him about this world.

“Look at the red,” he says. I think his voice is quivering. “See what a difference it makes.”

He’s right. It does. The photograph becomes invisible. You enter it, and in it their hands claw the sky
and their heads wear red haloes against the sand. Their stilled eyes are staring at the blue sector of the
sky beyond the high clouds under which they lay. In the dust of a landscape like this memory grows
like knotweed. I look at their hands, their stiffened open fists surrendering. If you wanted to, after you
put Straw’s photograph down, you could remember their hands as babies’ hands, reaching for
assurance; delicate, tiny baby fingers curled around the finger of a man. If remembering and forgetting
were done differently their heads might not have red haloes against the sand. They might still be living.
They might instead be sipping coffee from cups as small as thimbles, and on the table there could be a
plant with red flowers, and mothers holding babies in their arms, wanting for nothing.

Wilson has steel tips on his heels. I can hear him coming. Straw takes the ragged paper with the
photograph on. As he folds it I catch a glimpse of the word orgasm in a sentence under the picture
of the dead Afghans.

“Listen to those shoes,” says Straw. “Even from that you can hear why they call him doctor. The
clinical bastard. He even sounds surgical, the way he walks.”

Wilson has my jacket. He hands it to me and I put it on as we leave the room which faces that line of trees.
I follow him to the stairs that lead down to the ground floor. The yellow fluorescence of his own jacket
and the glare of the ceiling lights colliding with the reflective strip across the back of it which says
Security
makes me feel more ill. The steel tips on his shoes sound urgent against the empty stairs.

---
from here
and the anthology here


----
Thursday, April 14, 2016
 
The story of the Famous Five and the Arab boy

A Companion Reader to the Chilcot Report
Can't wait for the Chilcot Report? 
Can't wait to reckon the price of blood?
Read the Unofficial Appendix while you wait.
A snapshot of the state of the nation back then.

"The story of a boy who wanted to wear Levi jeans
and a cowboy hat and to be taken seriously by

the big boys. The story of the Famous Five
and the Arab boy." ---- Blyton's Believe it or Not


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

looking to buy someone a present and don't know what to get? look no further...

Amazon.co.uk £7.99
The Book Depository £7.99, includes free delivery worldwide

Before Hutton, before Butler, before Chilcot,
Mikey Fatboy Delgado was looking into the matter...
In the spring of 2003 the Iraq war is underway and
Mikey is almost all in favour of it. It makes for good
television and is improving his sex life. If only the BBC
would sort out those green pictures of fighting in the
dark he might even be prepared to cough up for a licence.
And if only corrupt policing and the amount that Blair grins
weren't so unsettling he would be able to relax and enjoy
watching the highlights of the fighting more.

***************

“Saddam has bitten the kids and pissed on
the mat and eaten our ganja and he won’t
stop fucking barking, so bosh, ta-ta, thanks
for all the fish, and fucking goodnight Irene.
Your services are no longer required, Saddam.
You are going up the motorway, pal.”


***********************





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Wednesday, April 13, 2016
 
Visiting Dean

 By the road to the mental hospital
a guy on the wall calls across to us
 that he’s starring in a Chinese movie
about the exploits of a gang of bandits.
He says he’s reading a book called Knots.

Mindful of the long corridor
we still have to walk to the secure ward
I call back that life’s a scream
and he opens his shirt to show to the sun
the tattoos he’d done when he’d come undone.

 Haha, he howls, life’s a scream.
That’s true that is mate. I’ll put that here.
And he draws a circle with his fingers
around where he thinks his heart should be,
next to the blue inked words Man is born free.

The long corridor is quiet. The floor
somehow sucks up the sounds of our shoes
and everyone we pass looks beatific.
On the other side of the secure door
they look at us like rabbits might look at war.

 Dean is mellow. Never tell them what you know,
he whispers as we pass into the garden.
He stretches on the grass and we take the bench.
Everything has form and content, he says.
When we go wrong the form contains the mess.

And the blue mottled clouds that hold rain
which once fell on Rutherford, New Jersey,
start to wash over us. Clean my sins away,
begs Dean, holding his arms open wide.
We smiled for him in there. When we left we cried.

--
from the anthology Southernmost Point Guest House --

**
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
 
Essential Work Material
----
Monday, March 14, 2016
 
 




















Protecting the Commanding Heights of the Economy – A Torturer’s Poems
by Anon, forthcoming in 2016 from Pink Panther Acid

While I was setting up the recorder for our interview Anon glanced without invitation
at my typed notes.
– This is problematic.
He pointed to the second sentence of my notes where I’d stated “He was a torturer for
the government.”
Anon is frank. He was a torturer for the government.
– But all that means to say is that my wages came from the public purse. As far as I was
concerned, as far as we were all concerned, I think, or I thought, we were working on your
behalf, on behalf of the people, safeguarding what we like to call democracy. Of course I
know now that our function was merely to inflict pain on strangers, on other mothers’ sons,
on the off-chance that we might thereby protect the commanding heights of the economy
and our ruling class. But let’s be clear, we are all collaborators. As the law now stands if
you are not a collaborator you are ripe for torture, or worse.

During intermissions in the torture process Anon would write. That is how this book came
into being. The first poem he wrote (and the last poem in this collection) starts..

In places the torturer can sound like
some sort of poet. He says so himself.

He made the poem (An instructor in C— B—–) immediately after a lecture he and his fellow
torturers had attended. During the course of that lecture the torture instructor had exhorted his
cohort to not lose sight of the “fact” that both reading or producing poetry, and safeguarding
democracy by any means necessary, are absolutely compatible.

-We learned to believe that it’s possible to be both [torturer and poet]. That it’s possible to be
absolutely anything, and any combination of absolutely anything. That whatever it is it’s all right.
That whatever vileness which might be inexcusable and arrestable elsewhere is tolerable if in the
apologia for it the word democracy is sprinkled.

Anon notes in the poem the most terrible human exhalations that...

It’s possible to muse, for instance, that

from these rooms only sighs and screams escape.
It’s possible to believe that they are
made to flee the body on your behalf.
Even something as terrible as a
scream, which he has spent lifetimes subduing
and suppressing, cannot bear to remain
within his body when the torturer
is doing his work on your behalf.
His screams breed like rats, they breed inside the
body impregnated by your torture.
The more screams I bring into the world the
more are born elsewhere.

As is now well known the twist in the torturer’s tale is that Anon became a whistleblower and
fearing arrest and consignment to the network of secret prisons and torture rooms that dot the
globe he went on the run and is wanted for punishment.

– In our unit the work was done in that half-darkness that is calm and quiet apart from screams.

There is sometimes a ringing and we will
turn our attention from him and we lift
our small blue screens to the side of our face
and illuminate in blue the harsh bones
and muscles of our heads which form and shape
and change like corn in erratic gusts and
breezes the silhouette of his torture.

(from Taking a call from my wife while I’m killing a man)

These days Anon says he looks at people with their phones to their heads, and automatically thinks
don’t hurt me. He says this plea is most fervent in the half-dark and the dark, when he sees blue
faces and screenlit eyes in the gloom. He says he doesn’t say it aloud. It’s more of a prayer, and he
knows it will be merely co-incidental if it works. He says he knows that people have no mercy and
that everyone does a job and can’t think about it and what pain there might be in it for others, direct
or oblique.

They can’t afford to think about it. They
sell poisonous food. They scan barcodes and
ask if you need help packing the poison
into poisonous bags. People work for
poisoners. People work for the people
killing their children. People work in our
government offices and make peoples’
lives a misery. People work and their
work neglects other people. Why would these
people here have any mercy or thought
of mercy for me? I’ve done it myself.

(from Crating up chickens for slaughter in darkened sheds)

-I was a coward. At the start another torturer could see I was floundering. He said if you think
of them as lives you won’t be able to do this job. If you think of them as beating hearts you
will fail our country. You must think of them as oranges, as I do, or as something else.

He said I shouldn’t think about it if I broke their legs stuffing them into the plastic restraints in
that half-lighting. He said I should think nothing of it if their breathing stopped. He said I shouldn’t
sorrow at their deaths. I remember liking at the time that he’d used sorrow as a verb.

Now, in this long intermission in the torture process, Anon does sorrow. Here in M—— he is aware
of everything; the man on the phone, the muscles in his face and the flutter in his throat, scenes from
the past that arise in these intermissions, faces that he hasn’t recalled for thirty years, the boy who died
when he was six.

We didn’t sorrow for him then, or for
his mother. From that day forward
when we thought of him it wasn’t his death
or even him that we remembered, but
our terror of the word leukaemia.

(from we didn’t sorrow for him then)

-In the torture room, as in life, things of beauty dumbfound us. Only sighs escape. These sighs are given
off from what has coalesced in us, and has been silent and impatient for contact. In that way beauty drains
us of our small cries. It’s a gentler torture.

Anon in his recounting of the lives of himself and his fellow torturers says the writing of them feels
something like a loner’s furtive masturbation. He also knows that is how many will want to portray
it, to discredit it, to de-validate it. He says….
-I look back and see myself huddled there in the network, doing my job, not sorrowing, fantasy
streaming from me along with inadequacy, immaturity.

Of all the species what other animal’s outpouring would lead to that room?
Equally what other species’ outpourings lead to the bookshop and the critics knife. And which
critics will take the knife to Anon’s outpourings without
any sorrowing, on our behalf.
Plenty I expect.
We will see.

...................
Monday, February 29, 2016
 
The Song of Lunch
From The Song of Lunch - Christopher Reid


It’s an ordinary day
in a publishing house
of ill repute.
Another moronic manuscript
comes crashing down the chute
to be turned into art.
This morning it was Wayne Wanker’s
latest dog’s dinner
of sex, teenage philosophy
and writing-course prose.
Abracadabra, kick it up the arse –
and out it goes
to be Book of the Week
or some other bollocks.
What a fraud. What a farce.
And tomorrow: who knows
which of our geniuses
will escape from the zoo
and head straight for us
with a new masterpiece
lifeless in his jaws.


---------
Wednesday, December 02, 2015
 
Queen and Country / Letter



On Laughing Mushrooms we were,
all of us, except for 
London Mikey the black boy,
and the lieutenant,
a posh cunt
on anti-depressants.

And patrolling out there
on the same street where
the guy who got killed two days before
was in his house, in his coffin,
on the front room table,
and in the middle of his forehead
a tiny tiny blue bruise...
and I’m telling you now,
you wouldn’t know he was dead,
you’d think the box was his bed
not that he’d gone down dead into the gutter
where twisted like that
he looked like he’d just got tired
of throwing stones
and had dropped down and curled up
and gone off to sleep,
not that one of us had shot the rubber bullet
straight at his Irish head
instead of into the ground in front of his feet.

And two days later down his street
the acid started to bubble through
as strong as ten bears
just as it all went twisted
like that bit where
at the end of Bonnie and Clyde
those birds get spooked
and all you can hear is flapping wings
and birds getting the fuck out of those trees
and they look at each other, Warren Beatty
and that blonde piece,
and you can see them thinking what the fuck is this?
this is fucking it…


 and I don’t know what did it to us that day,
perhaps a car backfired, or some cunt pulled a stunt
with a firework, but we hit the floor man
and shot up the fucking street with live fire,
right, left, and fucking centre.
And Dave from Swansea,
a big fat Swansea Jack bastard
was screaming bandits! bandits! bandits!
and everyone else screaming screaming screaming
about the fucking Pope and Irish cunts.
And where one minute that poor fucker was laid out
ready for the cemetery
in his Sunday best
looking like he’d had enough politics for one day
and had slipped into his box for a little sleep,
the next minute the lieutenant’s screaming
hold your fire! hold your fucking fire!
screaming and bawling like a big fucking girl
whose dickhead boyfriend is being fucked-up
in the car park of a pub for being a twat;

and every window on the front of that guy’s house
is shot to fuck, with us sticking our heads through there
from outer space,
like space cadets,
peering like vegetables
at the matchwood of the mashed up coffin
and the body with eleven rounds in it
tipped onto the floor,
ripped to big pieces,
covered in glass and a fucked up flag.

And we stared and stared at the squiggly wallpaper
cascading down the wall
like a waterfall,
and what we could see of the carpet pattern
was squirming
like a pit of snakes,
and you wouldn’t believe the colours , as vivid
as the lieutenant’s face, melting
like cartoon stuff…..and the silence man,
the absolute
fucking
silence.

     And then transport came
     and got us out of there
     and everything was green
     and everyone said
     not to worry he was dead already
     and now he looked it
     and a couple of the boys said
     ah fuck the acid;

and London Mikey the black boy
never came back
from his next leave.
Stabbed by a white boy
in a pub in cowboy country
south of the river. National Front.
Good fucking bloke he was, Mikey,
called his house his yard.
One of the boys man.

Peace!

Later!


----
from Last Night's Dream Corrected


----
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
 
The more things change the more they stay the same
from Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado




That George Bush is a scream. The geezer looks like he can just about stand up.
He’s on the telly making a speech, hanging on to that stand as if he’s whizzing his
box off and winging it as he goes along. He’s made up a great word just now on
the news...horrocious. He’s a top geezer. He’s fronting up Syria now and old Blair
is back-pedalling. They’re like Draper and Detective Segeant Hodgepewter in the
Drugs Squad. The old good cop, bad cop routine. Old Bush is telling Assad that he’s
going to have his bollocks as earrings if he don’t settle down and old Blair’s telling him
there’s a way out as long as he grasses up the lads who are slipping into Iraq to have it
off with our lads.

Still, things are looking up. It looks like the septics are determined to have it off with those
Syrian geezers, whatever the Syrians say. It’s shaping up nicely and it looks like any excuse
will do. Old Assad wears brown shoes…bosh! the Yanks don’t like brown shoes...old
Assad is watching BBC1...bosh! the Yanks want to watch ITV. So a word to the wise to
the BBC before it all goes off again...get those fucking green pictures sorted out so we can
see what’s going on when our boys are fighting at night! A few more people would probably
get a licence if you took little things like that on board. I know I’d consider getting one.

These Yanks are a right laugh aren’t they? When they want to have a ruck with you there’s
no getting out of it. They’re like Davey Ribnecklace Gallagher down The Bush when he takes
a dislike to some ponce on our patch.

“You looking at me?” he goes.

“No,” they goes.

“You calling me a fucking liar?” he goes, and smack, bosh! down they go.


----


Tuesday, November 17, 2015
 
Hotel Kultur



In the Kultur Hotel’s Plato suite
the Secretary of State masturbates
over an issue of Slash, Stab and Beat.
A priest of the culture fulminates
in the Aristotle Conference Room
against setting the Amalekites free…
‘Kill the enemies of God. All are doomed
unless they come to the Father through me.’ 

Down the corridor the Medici Hall
hosts a jamboree for oil-company reps
and girls who do business on Capitol Hill.
On the Machiavelli disco steps
and in the toilets of the Borgia wing
are citizens who can get you anything.



--
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
 
Mikey Delgado's dream, part 3




The Famous Five and the Arab Boy


To be perfectly honest Tony was a little bit uncomfortable around Donald.
When they had first arrived at camp Tony had been overjoyed to see that
there were bunk beds and he had baggsied one of the top bunks but Donald
had gone awfully strange and..well…Donald had been rather beastly to Tony.
He had turned to Tony and because of the sun shining on Donald’s glasses
Tony couldn’t see his eyes. All he could see were Donald’s thin lips moving,
and though Donald spoke softly he sounded frightfully hostile to Tony, if the
truth be known.
  “Listen, kid,” Donald said, “you ain’t nothing here. You ain’t what we call a
man. A man knows another man. And I’m a man. And I know you ain’t one.
You...” and he stopped here for what seemed to Tony like an awfully long time
“are just a kid pretending to be a man. Well, kiddo ...that crap don’t cut no ice
with me. We are going to need someone to switch the lights off and that bunk
down there,” he pointed to a bottom bunk next to the door, “is next to the switch,
and you are going to be in it because you are going to be the light-turner-offer.
Capeesh?”
  Tony was quite taken aback by that and turned to George and Condie and Dickie
and Wolfie for some support but none of them seemed to have heard, even though
they were right there in the room. They were all looking the other way and Tony
thought for one odd moment that they were simply jolly well pretending not to
have heard. Uncle Colin had heard though and he just laughed and thumped Tony
on the back good-naturedly.
  “Hahaha,” Uncle Colin chuckled, “well I guess Condie has got her dog, and now it
looks as if Donald has got his pussy.” 

-------------------
Friday, May 15, 2015
 
things to do when elected
`

































For those who suffer the heat
of homogeneity, launch gentle
butterflies of rain, paroxysms of
blossom snow, quick guides to
pensions, blizzards of sweet money,
ladders of wristwatches, taxis to payday,
caplets of relief, evaporated paper,
peaches. Launch more words, tears
torn from water, conclusions of lines,
bunches of flowers (in which lilies
predominate). Turn back the miracles of the
feast, purges, unveiled hair, suffrage, written
reports, high buildings, intervening canyons.
Work longer. Write letters of intercession. Buy
envelopes, women poets, moisturiser, dogbrush,
shoeshine, scissors. Plus de guerres vagues.
---
Sunday, May 10, 2015
 
Diagnosis
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These things grind us to such a sharpened point -
the brightly-lit room, the gaunt sick faces,
the corridor and our feet constantly
shifting to give way, the recesses called
bays as if the grey men there have at last
a view of the sea, and where with stumbling
dread we feel sure the tips of our horror’s
honed blades will catch against the curtain and
cut it open to a vista of dread
and oblivion that will not be like
going to sleep – there will not be postponed
things to complete upon rising, or a
breaking of the fast, or rain, or sun or
a knock on the door and a returning
love, but in so bright a place memories
come flooding in – a man interrupting
an embrace says ‘you dropped your ticket, you
must be in love,’ – how true, the broken bed,
the stained sheet, the passionate protesting,
two arched backs and bodies fused at the hips
making a wishbone on its side, testing
its own strength – where is she now all these years
later? Has she gone on ahead herself?
Will word get to her that I’ve gone? These things
in the rain after diagnosis bring
such pain, such a flood of knowledge of what
a look may mean – in every face already
the November weather, the air-filled damp,
the terror, the fixed masks of a planet
of walking dead, the queued traffic as it
crawls up Pond Street, exhausting grey,
screaming to you “accept no leaders, not
one of them, friend, is worthier than you”


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