Stage left, Bookshop romance, Untidiness & The annual air show protest
[ poetry - october 07 ]
He's a pair of steel-toe-capped boots
marching on the British Embassy.
He's a one day general strike
thirty years ago last Wednesday.
He's a leaflet shoved into your hand.
He's May Day 1975.
He's an abstract discussion
about who to support
in a hypothetical war
between fascist Brazil
and democratic England.
He's something that almost happened
once: a proof copy
of a might-have-been masterpiece,
full of misprints.
He's a glass of red wine before breakfast
the day he decided
to fall down the stairs.
The girl behind the counter whispers: "Yes, Mother",
then puts the phone down with a cosmic sigh.
You look up from your D.H. Lawrence.
Something rustles in your corduroy trousers.
You want to shout: "Let me through!
I'm an existentialist"; to take her hand
and tell her: your own family Christmases
often resemble the aftermath of an embalming;
that your brother's a fully paid-up member
of V-neck Sweaters for the Bomb;
that most years you honour them
with your absence.
That you'd like her to come up
this evening to see your haiku
and the life you keep
in the shoebox under the bed.
That you've been admired
by women with bad judgment
all your life...
Not enough that I now
Winter in the Seychelles;
have changed my name to Beau
and developed an evil twin
brother called Clint.
Even here, there are days slow
as bureaucracy, when I ignore
the passing butterflies
to dream up a movie in which
your years scrubbing floors
at a ball-bearing factory
on the outskirts of Tirana end
with your skeleton
being donated to charity.
Because life is untidiness
and then only the end
The annual air show protest
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are God
taking pneumatic drills to the sky.
The cat covers his ears and retires
to the back of the wardrobe.
Elsewhere, a demo gives old friends
somewhere to put their anger.
The man who, every chance he gets,
ticks you off for bearing false witness
against East Germany, hands out red balloons.
His moustache stops to congratulate itself.
His heartbeat hammers: Long Live Stalin!
Long Live Stalin! A guy with purple hair
offers Food Not Bombs to an elderly
white woman with dreadlocks.
You uproot weeds, tell yourself
if their dream republic got born,
the cat wouldn't be crouching
in the dark, but cold between slices
of questionable brown-bread
- all you'd have to eat - know
you're more likely to go
into the night on a unicycle
screaming: Free Paris Hilton!
Free Paris Hilton! than accept
another red balloon from them.