Shoe gazing & Going into the yellow
[ poetry - december 06 ]
McStein has a facial scar and mannerly sense,
Sol, so loud, in a perpetual lather;
Hodgkins's sly, intelligent, furtive way
the counterpoint to Bradley's manic brain;
Aziz, his inoffensive glissando of laugh;
Randals, infallibly drawn to the weak -
One by one, I dream them, whose crimes
rattle and bump behind them like a cortège of tin cans.
Their faces - I don't know how to say this -
are turning into mine. That smile.
It started and now it cannot stop.
A potential is mirrored like a shadow. It falls, like rain,
in the spaces between assumptions
and threads the body's interstices, goes into your bones.
Look. They have found my new shoes
and squabble, trying to read the label.
Into their white-as-sea-foam trainers,
earned for good behaviour, I slip an overcautious foot.
Going into the yellow
When it came to Conrad's map it wasn't the expanses of red
or the areas of green or of orange or purple,
I was going into the yellow. Dead centre.
The commission was clear-to confront a population
of sentenced and resentful men (invisibly roped)
who, as they entered, seemed too lumbering huge
for the space they occupied, and to engage them, and teach
the gentle arts of self-expression, hand to heart,
biro-end to teeth... I felt like a man sent to fix, say,
a ten-by-three mile rupture in the side of the Zambezi dam
with a tube of calk, dental floss, a hammer and nails
and an endless chain of paper bags that filled up and burst;
the thrown-into-the-gap, the heaped, the washed away,
as quickly dissolving sandbags of woeful words.