Back from the Thelemic symposium
or the Lodge of the Silver Whatever,
there must have been a time
when I went straight to the dole
to claim my fortnightly stipend.
Had there been grillings in those days
I would have gladly confessed.
‘What have you done to look for work?’
‘Invoked the Mauve One in a pentagram…’
‘Get thee behind me. Here’s thy giro.’
It was that, or non-league football
or deep green politics. I was joyously confused,
my diary far too full for work.
The saints were looking on and tutting,
waiting for IDS and Universal Credit.
I spent my ill-gotten gains on off-peak travel
and Nilgiri tea from shops packed high
with sacks of rice in Ladypool Road.
I’d haunt the Bull Ring market at closing time,
coax aubergines and peppers into fiery curries.
All the time I concealed my bright red tail
in scruffy jeans and no-one cared.
The Pharisees were on the rise
but had not yet triumphed. Food-banks
were a thing of the past, not of the future.
Now, am I a pillar of the community
with my twelve years’ faithful service
and my plundered purse?
Or a pillar of salt, caught looking back
at a time of rebellion much too short?
Pic: Mike Lesser