Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Essay (Something – colon – followed by a longer something)
and the first damp days of October.
The lighting is an eternal violet hour
or an Eliot dusk for workers with gastritis,
the heating feels of chilly early March. I’ll take
a vegetarian breakfast without the egg,
flaunt ironic scholarship and request
a decoction of my aunt's lime-flowers
with just a tiny splash of soya milk.
I catch sight of myself in the mirror
and I knew him not. I’m here, it says,
and I barely look alive. The table
in shadow is a blessing, not the commanding heights
but a hillock nevertheless, a full field of fire
and a hidden corner, and only my hands are in light.
This essay will never get written.
‘With his throat cut, fifteen years from now,
in Omaha’ is a line I suddenly love.
Only real stoics, it strikes me,
may successfully hang themselves, surely.
If they’ve left even the slightest possibility
of clambering back onto the ledge from which
they’ve stepped it must take extraordinary discipline
not to, as the froth and spit churn to some sort
of ectoplasm, thickening into textures of thin wet cloth.
Is that how it was for Kevin on that dreadful day,
in that dreadful room? ‘I would need some odd beauty,’
my narrator will say, ‘to contemplate as I hang there,
to relax into, to gaze at.’ The canvas of his mind
immersed in, say, remembered landscapes
near Cambridge and Ely – solar farms, grain
silos, railway crossings, water, the black earth, the Fens.
You have to be brave, or so badly need it all to stop.
You have to balance and step through your tied hands
and kick the support irretrievably away. Oh, no daydreams
of the torments of others, and less self-pity! We have not,
after all, disappeared into the monstrous dungeons of killers.
Here’s the worst that today will offer - a dried breakfast
minus the egg. We have entered, ordered, and only then
awakened to where we are, and to the workload and the rupture
of separation that is the students’ lot, we who weep in secret
behind the closed doors. There was that other eating place,
where warriors wrote their epitaphs in soot on the ceiling
before they left for war. The essay would have been better
imagined there, more finely descriptive of how the sun glances
off that white memorial stone in their silent city on the edge of town,
their home in the minds of men. But we stumbled instead to here,
thoughtless, settling for so much less than we wanted.