Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado
Friday, June 23, 2017
A bird, suddenly
The double glass reflects sky.
I expect you thought you'd fly
right through it, thinking to enter
the tunnel of the convex mirrored cloud
and blueness on the back wall.
When I describe you to myself,
to try to know that the world
hasn't yet sickened enough
to make all birds yearn to self destruct
through things that we've allowed,
I am describing you to myself
to try to soothe the sudden terror
in me. I say it became momentarily dark
and I thought a grey sack had been hurled
against the window with the force
of a spurned god. You were a sack of sorts,
a beautiful feathered case of expectations,
a cold bomb detonating against the glass.
Decentered and trembling, seeing
the glory of you with your stilled beauty
drained of all its motivation, broken
outside the window beneath the green canopy
of coreopsis, what could a coward do
but reach for the keyboard as a shield?
Monday, June 19, 2017
"Spring has arrived in Western Galilee..."
Today it was, and a young man arriving
as the last snow of the year melted
woke me from sleep, asking
- pointing to a line on the map,
to the line between us and them -
Am I in the right place? Is it here
that we come to face our enemies?
Spring plants were on the table and the room
was beautified by the day’s air. It smelt
nothing like the cologne we sprayed in the tank
after we cleaned the last of the dead man from it.
The young man, the new replacement, stood
at the open window looking north and spoke
about how beautiful Lebanon looks from here.
And the sky, he said, goes from the left edge
of the world right across to the right edge,
and where it is white it is whiter
than I have ever seen. As we listened
to the radio crackle of a patrol
trapped by fedayeen to the north of here
he wrapped himself between the fringes
of his prayer shawl and prayed to his god.
I sat at the window and breathed the Spring air.
Listening to the bells of unshepherded goats
I opened these pages and wrote this letter.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
And dadda’s sat there all through results night, tired in his chair,
and he says the sun went down and the sun came up and like in
that song the youth have bubbled up, just like a 7-up, and we
have brought dadda a red plant to put somewhere he can see it.
The posturing hag on the silenced screen is making noises.
Just noises. She is going to need new friends from the asylum
who understand noises they can’t hear. She can talk to them.
Dadda says he loves the red plant. It’s a plant I can be proud of,
he says. The first time for a long time. The posturing hag sent
someone to the door a few days ago with blue flowers for him
but dadda doesn’t care for cut flowers. He will only have plants
in the house, not cut flowers. He used to be a gardener and he
always says that in the end he couldn’t take the killing. He couldn’t
take the filling of orders for flowers. He didn’t like to watch them
cut and dying and rotting in vases of fetid water. Blue flowers in
such a vase are a perversion of aesthetics, says dadda, as if
suffocation and putrefaction might ever beautify a room. The job
made him think – he couldn’t say why – of Treblinka. Do you
remember, he says, when you were children, and we would go to the
woods, and we would go to the woods as friends of whatever was
there. We remember. We didn’t kill flowers to take them home to
learn their names. We’d bring a small book and head for the silver
birches by the sandy river and dadda used to say if we find your
name here we shall know you by it and if we don’t we will still call
you something in our dreams until we know better. And once when
we were old enough we debated what to call a red mushroom in a
language of our own.
Thursday, June 08, 2017
"citizen of the world, citizen of nowhere"
The subservient English troop off to wield the pencil in favour
of the thieves transferring the common wealth into their tax havens
and business schemes, muttering to their wives and husbands and
neighbours and to themselves the received infantile wisdoms that
they've gleaned from the broadsheets and tabloids of the billionaires.
The state broadcaster hides behind the thick black curtain and reports
what it can see from there. The grimacing hag dances on the blood
by the river. Children are herded into the crumbling classrooms of
their respective superstitions, giving the lie to the paean to shared values.
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
"my pitch is very simple"
The rubber-faced hag slugs up to the microphone and on another screen
a cartoon buffoon, an oily functionary straight from a sinister cloud in
trousers, earnestly tells lies to the faces of the hopeful youth, and on the
streets everywhere disaffection runs amok in kind or solicitous or murderous
ways, and snake oil is poured into wounds, and a beautiful girl is piped home
to her rest, and on every bridge the estuary breeze chills the blood, and in
our hearts resigned sobs, and all we find to savour are the anxieties our
ambitions stir in their fuckpads in the tax havens in the warm dead seas of
their doomed and corrupted world.
Monday, May 15, 2017
The readers of the Boston Evening Transcript
Sway in the wind like a field of ripe corn. - TS Eliot
Lucky them. My daughter’s madeleine
will be the smell of fine dust in the long tunnels,
and the perching seats in the bright carriages
where readers of newspapers stumble
like thrown sheep as the brakes are applied
in a flourish of stopping, and the train slows
into the thin tube of yellow platform light.
The doors slide and people tumble like bruised fruit
from burst boxes. Others take their places,
bewildered and dumb, done with duty, sleepwalking
to their stables and pens and batteries.
Cables are pulling us to pay-day,
to the early darkness of the suburbs,
to the dormitories above the paved over fields.
from Last Night's Dream Corrected
Monday, March 20, 2017
Luciano has passed away – sign on the café door.
Don’t close your eyes in Spring, even for a second.
So much happens. Just for a day I missed
the ornamental cherry where the paths meet
and now the fat baubles of blossom are gone,
laying as petals at the crosspath like pink-tinged snow
on the long-trumpet daffodils.
In the café the gardeners have made a gift of primroses.
Every table has one. They are for Luciano.
At the Gaggia machine which makes too-strong coffee
Lydia sees primroses everywhere she looks.
Her sadness is unrelenting. The counter
is a barrier to holding her.
It makes me ashamed to be happy
in front of her and the primroses
when I remember that Luciano has gone.
At the table I am composing a letter
to Ali in Mosul. I am saying Yes. Spring.
The lesser celandine, now it’s everywhere,
the big-starred and the little-starred.
While I walked in the woods today
I sent thoughts to you of blackbirds and robins.
As they flitted from tree to tree I imagined
orange and yellow tracer fire across the path.
But it was quiet there, not like war at all, just as loud
as the fluttering wings of birds on branches.
I am writing at the café table. In my arms
is my sweet baby who took her first steps
when I was looking the other way. I missed them.
She has soft brown hair and the sweetest nature.
People looking at her almond eyes
ask if there is any Chinese in the family.
They crowd around us, cooing about life
in the shadow of Lydia’s grief. Oh Lydia,
keep your sweet faith. Don’t die inside.
Saturday, February 04, 2017
Diagnosis / Prognosis
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 damp-filled air,
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'.
Who knows what happens in the lives of people
glimpsed from a train? As a train crosses
a viaduct, and far below one sees two cars
embraced in their splintered collision
and the lovers' arms gesticulate
towards each other and to heaven
and then are gone, and the train comes
to the kind of city where for minutes on end
it rolls through townscapes of shops
and vehicles queued at crossings,
and if not a man there restraining his sheep
from suicide then a man gone down
in the middle of the day, and around him
people have parted like the sea around a rock,
a circle of living coalesced around him,
observing the struggle they’ll all come to,
seeing that something about him is like a man
on a rope at the base of a tree in autumn,
frayed rope, weak hands, tired heart. An
ambulance arrives and no-one cries,
or cries aloud I have seen a man die
but inside, for the rest of the day, and now
and then for evermore when at the end
of another November leaves start to fall too early
or floodwater parts around a pile of leaves
or the book opens by chance at the page upon which
a poem struggles to talk about us,
some of us hear a voice calling ‘stand clear’
and see a body jolt, and the crossing gate opens
and we are past and the scene is gone
and has no prologue and no end like a page
of a story in an open magazine
in the doctor’s waiting room
to which one has returned
to hear what comes next.