nthposition online magazine

The people want bread not circus, Protection & Memory beach

by Helên Thomas

[ poetry - march 05 ]

The people want bread not circus

Today,
where yesterday's bakery stood:
grease-painted clowns, jugglers, monkeys
and budgies on tiny fire engines;
strings of elephants following the leader;
a moustachioed ringmaster in top hat and tails;
tigers and lions leaping through hoops and rings of fire,
beneath dare-devil trapeze, barking seals balancing balls;
pretty ponies whose bare back riders
are spangly cowgirls who also assist
blind folded knife-throwers who never miss.
And finally: fireworks, balloons and confetti,  
with wild applause and open mouthed awe,
then I returned home,
having forgotten what I left the house for.

 

Protection

Beware the spores! They are growing bigger, more numerous and better organised,
(except for the ones that are getting smaller; so small as to be invisible to the human eye.)
They attract their victims by emitting a unique bait of pheromone musk-scent that smells
of money and admiration. They are artificially intelligent; they learn from mistakes.
We can sell you goggles.
Tick the box if you'd like to receive a catalogue.
There's an unseen Disney film locked in a vault. It's about a beautiful forest
full of cute animals who all love each other. They can all sing, dance and talk.
They're all vegetarians and their individual foodstuff of choice can be found in abundance,
along with clean spring water, which bubbles into sparkling streams.
The animals frolic joyously and have lots and lots of fun.
Nothing else happens; it's all quite lovely.
They all live happily ever after from beginning to end.
Not available to buy.
There's a worm made of tar. It has no skin or bones. It feeds off plasma and platelets
and wears the walls of your blood vessels as its exoskeleton.
It divides by binary fission, doubling and doubling like time-lapse gothic botulism.
You can see it spreading underneath your skin, filling your capillaries until they creak.
You'll be compelled to rip out those strangling black threads
like faulty electrics or rapacious weeds.
There are procedures: we can arrange to have your veins lined with lead.
Tick the box if you'd like us to send you a catalogue.
Your statutory rights are not affected.

 

Memory beach

On weekends and holidays, in all sorts of weather,
With swimsuits and wellies we go to the beach;
With buckets of upside-down sand we build castles,
And dig moats around them that fill up with sea.

We gather dry starfish as brittle as biscuits;
Driftwood sandpapered and washed by the waves;
Pebbles, glass smooth, shaped by years in the ocean;
We sift through the flotsam for shells in shy coves.

We ponder the rock pools and wonder of mermaids;
Tell tall tales of jellyfish stings and jump clear;
Dare to touch seaweed and dead crabs, so stinky,
Jabbing and jousting a snapped craggy claw.

As pirates swashbuckling, we plunder dune islands,
Tumbling down gullies of hot windblown sand.
Playing cool cowboys and super red Indians,
We slay mutant monsters until the day’s end.

Back by the bay, the tide’s turning, waves breaking,
Invading the shoreline, the swell of the sea 
Floods moats; our fortress defences fall crumbling,
Collapsing sandcastles that sweep clean away.