Southern III

So much seems to be breaking or coming undone at the moment right now, including my attention span. So how do I keep smiling? Is it this bad naive poetry I write on night-time journeys? It’s something. How else does a person occupy themselves in public places when their mp3 player no longer works? Everyone seems to be full of advice about what I shouldn’t be doing with my time, but few people have any idea about what they should be doing. But this cynicism is a mask that conceals a banal level of sadness I read in passing eyes like the billboards of a bad film everyone’s going to see at the cinema. I awoke too late for the cinema. And you see something less narcissistic in gym-going, networking for a job you don’t even enjoy, or writing articles, hearing reports, funding applications, self-auditing almanacs, business proposals and brief histories of subjects only you and five other people ever cared about? Every city has its restless ghosts and catacombs. You talk about duty but whoever asked you to occupy this post? World spins and streams glisten. This is Southern III.

I refuse cynicism
All these miserly fusions
Your free drinks – flirtations
Elegant diversions
The way you make her hands flutter
Like a moth unable to exit a window
I recognise your abilities
The way you make his legs cricket-twitch
Those fine ideas of yours
Make me lose my face.
Long nails and itchy chins.

Pencilled on asphalt
The history of three cities:
You, me, and him:
Our territorial limits
Economic blockades
The mischooling of our children!
My denied visa
Your state-subsidised breakfasts,
Our passive strategies
Against one another.

I knew a way to make you smile once.
That babaluga bangle of old McWhippy Rossi
Cacophony arraigning
Suburban attention spans,
Rectangular streets neither squalid nor neat
Foxes screech, faces crease
Intermittent repeats of TV bleats,
The way you parted your hair back
Distracted, but as if
Your fingers possessed secrets
Were in league with that intoxicating
Cherry-pear scent,
And later,
Cider sweetened with a blackcurrant soup.

A wry smile from leading know-all pundit.
The tempo of this table finger-waltz
Disabuses –
So stop it.
Psy-ops, cold curry, a love
Like a pop ditty.
Day like all others.
Armpits sing with hot mediocre
Swamp-rock architectonics.
Not wearing any lights now,
Only an adult excuses blood in accidents.
Takes an afterlife as afterthought.

“These kids possess neither
Attentions nor manners”.
So declares drunken white man
I am expected to respect.
Blames the lesbians and those
Colleagues still in league against him.
A reflection of their inputs.
So outside –
Promises snake round ears
Like gin kisses.
I’ve told you far more things
Than might ever be true.
You went to see him, when gestures
(Or jesters) No longer had their due.
Spidery, doubt webbed round your eyelids:
Queen hair, tough skin, angry books.

Our three histories
Reduced to allegory.
Muttered in the back of
Some ancient garden
Where orchids are unheard of,
The buddleia fed on tramp’s tears,
Adolescent love-letters,
High Court summons.
Of our histories:
The old tale of a friend, she,
Picaresque scene with polka-dot stars
Cola and watch-straps, yes,
She hated those lies
Her face told about her eyes.
Razors and nails
Met another friend in a similar fate,
Likewise, but beyond advice,
They became grotesque parodies
Of redemptive fantasies.
Shopping for broken furniture
Victims of their self-prophecies
Narratives about parental failures.
“I’m not too young to love, but”,
And she clears her throat, and you turn away,
“I’m too old to forget”.
The history of our tribes involved war
And not wine –
Less a pickle of wisdom than the
Breeding of swine
– Fine, fine industrious swine. –

Finger print smudges on the edge of the bay
Bobbing seals fix upon us like
Wrecked mementos of lost children.
Cool, free of forgiveness,
Pint of salt water in old Norway Square
Now he asks me how I’m doing today
Come rain or worse weather
I’d be right either way.



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