They wanted to study me,
So, they entertained me with needles,
Sifting my blood for desire,
And distilling my fear to a stain.
All in the hope they would find the scalding pot
Beneath freckles, or stir the nail’s stinging
When sparking the skin to cause pain.
They enveloped my muscle with grease,
Papered my mouth, stoked saliva.
Measured my heart and brain function,
As they harvested the hairs from my chest.
Sucked at my knuckles, singed toes,
And let a child kneel before me,
Checking the flesh for sensation,
Or the nostril and neck for affect.
On my nipples I felt the electric dance
Of stunned moment. On the lobes of my ears,
And my scrotum, they placed a woman’s tongue
And hot bone. My ball-sack blushed round,
Becoming a bulb, ripe for blooming,
They let a snail and snake slip across me,
On shit and albumen I was throned.
They asked me questions.
They read the racket and rules of the riot.
Reports, long and listed of former loves past deceits.
They showed me that calm traitor, flesh
Who always persuades, never pleases,
Revealing at once the defilement
That no-one of recognised faith could conceive.
There were men there who pissed,
Often on me, seeking pleasure.
Men with long faces, with hairier friends,
Who were round. Police, overweight,
Already middle aged, middle England,
Who sat in rooms with me, spitting
Fire and words through hate’s sound.
I granted nothing. I stared.
I will never give into defilement.
What I believe inside has been tested
Against the struggle and stains of the rude.
I kiss away every bite and romanticise ruin.
I am calm canals and slow rivers,
Bending for boats to intrude. Birds, too,
Fat with sky. They plumbed with me cloud.
I rain-bloated. They brought me a Priest
In a bottle and I felt the candle’s cry
And scorched tears. They offered me
Indecipherable prayers, reflected in glass
My abasement, and yet inside I felt nothing,
Despite my blistering blood and skin fear.
Caged, I still flew, as they cornered the dust
On the ceiling. I was a moth lost to feeling
And the tears in my eyes were sharp stones..
I harnessed the clench as a bone is locked into crisis,
And soon found myself drowning in the kind of air
I’d disown. I was the name they gave me,
And more, the Knight it seems of no table,
The one for whom honour is there in it’s taking away.
And so they stole it, like blood,
By siphoning off every moment;
The level set, soon diminished by the greedy guts,
Boiled from fact. Hours passed. Days.
And yet I would always turn, into silence,
Just like a Chrysalis, folding,
In a defensive twist, when attacked.
I became an idea, or perhaps to them,
An example of the way to be Satan
In the agnostic heart of most men.
I was a Church to myself and beside myself
Smelt the Graveyard, the dead grown like roses
In weather only the forgotten ones could defend.
The lost soon surrounded me cold, meeting my gaze
In eye water. The way that a tear forms, or poem,
Proof of what it is you’d attone.
When you meet people, what palls
Is the need to distinguish yourself,
Or to witness what makes the man somehow
Better, and what makes him feel less alone.
For we are all trudging away across a terrain,
Unencountered. It is for each of us to discover
The particular ways we will yeald.
They discovered nothing. I left.
Catching the last bus of the day to my Village,
Stopping once there at a farmstead for meat,
Cheese and water and for the rarefied fruit
Of the fields. And thence, to the Pub
Where I ordered myself dark blood Guinness
Savouring the taste of adulthood and the chill
In the bowel pain unfurls. The drink filled me
Far more than any other drink of that nature,
Or of that size, half a Guinness
Could as well have been half the world.
Or perhaps it was the storm found in tea
When the old make them cauldrons,
Or when the rain falls in daggers
Spearing the soaked as its prize. Guinness, like oil
And Alcohol, to remind me of so many changes
And of so many long vanquished binds.
The curse of drink’s not the drunk
But the way it removes you from sweetness,
The trouble with drink is its fuelling of the need
For a fire to chance or change God. From the clouds
Which split rain and from the taste of fate falling,
From its weight and the staining that isn’t worth
Thinking of. Times when consequence, blame
And the basic distance of people,
Retreat like held knowledge as the gambles you take
Assume sides. There is the state of blankness
To come, the claim of both the numb and the Neutral,
The work of the Unknowable, knowing just what it must do
To divide. Through growing infirmity, age,
And the song of fear which is endless,
There is the voice singing badly as the landscape is ripped
Between tides. Seas separate but the open vein
Spills a country. Along its coast the wind gathers
And the continued argument burns.
Lost in the call is the dampened path of salvation,
Along with the reasons for war and for envy,
Man’s treasured weakness, and the calls to which
He will always return. It is how we will die, foaming
Or snagged, in our fashion, desperate to reach targets
Never truly attempted before. And so all that I do
Becomes brave if I consider at hand this last torment,
Turning the pain I felt towards pleasure as soon as
Your gaze leaves the shore. In the silence which comes
I will have made for myself a fresh language
Which I can divulge in sparse whispers
To someone like you, in a gale.
It will re-order the cliffs, inform every street,
Litter pavement, rising with those winds, I will batter,
Stopping every throat as sound fails.
I will become everything. I will be the capturer and the castle,
I will become ancient England and its ruined now,
Grown absurd. I will be as sly as the sun, scorching your skin
Through cloud cover, I will be the dark’s passage
With the shock of a cat, sharing words.
That is when they will know that all they did to dissuade me
Will have no cause and be subject to the watchful glare
Of the moon. The unknowable will be felt behind every instinct,
And man instruct his distractions to wither and fade like lost clues.
Then I will strike, re-translating the sun, gouging weather,
Reminding man in God’s absence just what it is to defile.
For we are all fallable, all Lucifer’s lot, fallen, failing,
With no-one left here observing
As I leave their world empty
By stealing what’s theirs
With a smile.
Illustration Nick Victor