You asked me to write something today
And all I could sense was a blank.
Something on fiction and truth, was what you needed –
But my truth is a brick wall
And buildings that should be shattered
Like crabs’ claws.
Still, this morning I woke up at five
And wondered what would happen
If the earth froze numb at that secret hour –
If I could lift my hand, and make the horizon still.
Then there’d be no one except me,
And the birds. As the moon went out I should
Dance and fly through emptied streets
Away from the city’s cramped horizon
To where the great clouds raced.
Within their wefts, or so I’d like to think,
A sugar veil of crystals
A flurry of icy motes, waiting to catch the sun,
For now still dark with night –
A gust of frozen sparks, perhaps,
Dormant, and charged with the power
Of undiscovered things: unformed, unknown.
And then, having been born again,
I’d creep back to bed, and the smell of cotton.
Last night I met a girl, from far-off lands.
She was charming – Finnish, so she said,
And she smiled a numinous smile
On a clear face with peachy skin:
Slender, and lit with an inner glow,
Peaceful and seraphic,
As lucid in form as porcelain,
Or a pink sweetshop mouse.
I want to meet her again. But I’d made her up,
In a dream it seems I’d had; all complete,
All fully formed, with a purpose, and a past
Of her own, although she’d never been alive.
And now she’s gone with the dew.
And now I miss her.
She was, a think, a succubus of strange benevolence:
Beating inside, her eager heart
That galvanised my moment of epiphany,
And found a path to earth through sleeping limbs.
These ghosts of memory, haunting my waking hours:
Why do you give me time, why do you lend me
Your good aim? Phantasms that could not be,
Specious potentialities, all unborn
You night creatures, far removed
From what the daylight people do, or are;
Those sunshine ones, who own the clear air,
And spread themselves in it; whose clamour makes
A transient misfortune, then they’re gone…
Yet why must you, instead,
Tend me as if I were an orchid of the gloom –
Which, plainly, I am not?
I tried to think what heaven might be like
For us, we creatures of blind purpose
Fumbling (as we do) at light. Oblivion would be
Much of it: forgetting for the hundredth time
What we had done before, and comatose with hope,
We should ourselves break free – like birds, or
A flutter of petals, simply because we could.
Nothing to fail us, nothing to expiate, nothing to
Disappoint. Above all, freedom from shame.
Blank-eyed, we’d cup our hands, and find them
Crammed with sweets. Infantilism would be the
Recommended option, that or promiscuity.
We’d flounce like butterflies, or nose our way
As small insectivores do, sniffing for flesh to nip
Without remorse. Inspiring our laborious intent:
The gaze of a cow, chewing on infinity. All animal
Kingdoms would be ours to claim, lacking only people.
There’d be no art, no divine discontent:
No knowing laughter, and no more endeavour –
Only the yawning promenade
Of a world stripped of Self. Upon preened wings,
We’d soar through canyons bright as mirrors,
Where everything was fixed and known. Down
We’d dive: to perch, and later, stroll an eternal pleasure
Pier, bounded on each side by the extinction
Of individuals. Our jelly baby guards
(Blameless as halfwits, or as sociopaths)
Their looks too liquid to sustain reproach,
Would urge us safely home, and in a tract of flowers
We’d be immured, and there we’d stick: an endless, timeless
Moment wherein consciousness lay hanged.
Paradise, although fortuitous, is where nothing goes unplanned.
It is predestination without fear, without account.
Meanwhile, with brains intact, you’ll promise to let me
Face the glare of what is commonplace.
And, in return, I’ll try to be more even-handed
This is a poem about hope. Even if I wrote it in a squalid flat on Hackney’s “Murder Mile” – one of the poorest parts of East London (GB) – surrounded by wet rot, cockroaches and rodents. I had stupefying depression but every Wednesday afternoon I would haul myself off my sofa bed to attend an inspirational poetry group run locally by Jan Noble. It was Jan who started me writing (and later, performing) my own work.