SO THIS - OKAY, YUP
He loves you
Like Hitler loved Poland -
Yeah, you heard me -
And every day he walks between two wardrobes
Where masks and animations of himself
Drape from their hangers like evening gowns
Or files of empty envelopes
And picks one.
Pity him. Do you know what that is?
Let his tanks punch through
Like a clown through a circle of paper,
For whom the laughter that greets him
Can never quite compensate
For being a clown.
Which he'll have to deal with.
But oh yes, you hate him:
From these binoculars I've constructed,
From this handy hide,
You can watch him wake inside you
Like a foetus, like a tadpole uncoiling
From its mother's eye of sputum,
Done up in evening dress
With a Messerschmitt smile:
You can watch him break out and step into your body
Like a cheerful pilot drawing on his kit,
Zipping it up at the back
And cocking his thumb
For the newsreels he knows are watching
Before going out to meet himself
Upon the borders, dragging you behind him
Like a baggage train, an awkward moult of donkeys.
The meeting, of course, is the consummation -
You don't need me to tell you this -
The bisons fighting, the matching tanks
Butting their heads and clawing up their tracks
To bring down everything.
Pity him. Step aside
And draw out different money
And shake your head
Unable to deal with his;
Feel the angry whoosh
Of the missile boring
Its seeking tunnel past
You can have an ending
Where nothing seems to happen.
NO - OH - RIGHT -
Misery me, oh my darling, misera, mist-will-come-down
As the fog cranks up like a theme park ghost ride
That becomes real in the right sort of film,
You know the one,
And spills over the cliffs and spreads inland
Springing dew on cobwebs and losing the fields
Did I mention I was miserable?
Driving out to the pub the headlights swish
And predictably wash
On the slalom descent to St Just
Where the streetlamps hold
Their haloes to themselves
And the car park is empty, dripping.
But still, from a distance
- And I'll tell you this now
Though I'm still out here
Oh miles from the pub -
But still, from a distance, this final town
Is banked up and beautiful,
A liner strung with light
That wrecked itself in the hills
Many years ago, but has settled here
And rooted down like ivy,
Has sent its lights, which survived the wreck,
To tiptoe out and meld themselves again
To their corruption, making houses, roads,
All the stubborn opti-balls of life...
As the fog rises
And the soaking bugs that would eat you if they could
Hide in the hedges
The lanes out here are cold
And I am miserable, scared, uninhabitable -
You know the one - as I drive to the pub
From a bad day
With the fog rising off the calmest of seas
And spilling over the cliffs
Like dough from a cold oven
And everything you touch outside is wet -
As you know, yes yes I know
Because we've all been here
And walked this way in the fog,
You, my love, and all my friends,
Who are sitting now inside, waiting for me,
And would laugh quite kindly if they could hear this -
As the fog horn blares and throws its searchlight out
Of sound, and everyone is hearing it
Across the peninsula
Will I reach you?
The event is still to happen
As we slalom down the blinded lanes
And my present is my single light unaided
Checking its map in the fog
And scratching its head
And the black arms of the trees
With their squadrons of drops
But yes, I think so.
Certainly that doorway soon will open
And someone will walk in
To the jingle of bells
And the happy faces in the butter light
Will turn, and smile regardless,
Willing to give everything, in that moment,
To buy the dripping traveller
Everyone is thinking of light
Where they used to think of God
Because we've seen the sun, and everyone's in flight
With their wings in their hands
Round the little pea earth -
And perhaps if we could ram our keyboards down our throats
And mash the Intel chips into our hearts
Everyone would wake up,
Instead of browsing over
Like whales in the dark, hoovering shrimp.
This world - transitory - veiled -
My hand pressed flat against a window
On the other side people
On the other side, veiled, my face
Mingled with strangers
And I pick it out with soundless cries
Like a man just spotted the horse he backed
In a race - or the brother who he thought abroad
Like a ring through the bars of a gutter.
And my hand upon the windowpane is beautiful,
I see, though its fingers are bare -
Though my fingers are white and brittle as fish bones
And my face a thing composed of speech and air ...
POEMS ABOUT POETRY WILL ALWAYS BE WRITTEN
All we do is say what we can see
Or sort of feel. These days.
I should have said, 'these days.'
Your father's like a deckchair and it hurts you.
The summer leaves are plateaud screes of cells.
You're acting like a Bogart in the movies
Though we know you're not,
Though we know you know you're not.
We still have holy poet visitations
Of course, being poets
And cut out for the job,
But they can only be absences,
David Attenborough dressed up like a God
With something in his eye
And the camera on the blink;
The London Times op-ed
Engraved on tissues
And passed off with a wink.
Psychotherapists and us, my friends:
We minister like disbelieving priests
With different pay scales.
But a poem as 'the very image of life
Expressed in its eternal truth'?
Oh Shelley, dear - if you really were that clever
You'd have invented microwaves
And seen all the genocides coming.
ON NOT SETTING OUT
'You will find it hard going:
The sky as blank as an eye
Milked for blindness, or the screen
That papers the cinema
Before the film starts. Snow is
Through the trees, now, even,
And the door of this pub
Is banging fit to break.'
'It doesn't bother me.
I potted the black
Just then, while you, bud,
Were seeing what you could see.
The bar is lit
And slim cylindrical pints
Are lined up like machine-gun rounds.
The body drinks.
No-one but one is leaving, not just yet.'
'This juke box will play nothing by the end.'
© David Sergeant 2007