‘… I and my fellow animal-creatures down here in the
swamp are as closely related to the extraterrestrials
over your heads as the rats to the stars and beyond…’
– Dory Previn, Bog–Trotter


Charred remains twist,
rustling cold in the grate.

Early morning wind,
that blew away the rain,
blows charcoal paper over.

Your face stares out
from the ash,
eyes a photocopy grey.

Burnt out poems,
rewritten songs
are gone…

The record clicks
over and over and over
needling your memory.

Somewhere in the street
someone is playing
your song.

Down here
in the swamp of the city
a guitarist – out of tune.

Down here
in the sunshine city
a madman – out of bounds

The messages
are coming through
clear as day begins.

You are calm –
no more faces to burn
in those crystal eyes.

No more words
running around
looking for each other.

No more guitars
in your head
echoing in the distance.

Dawn stakes its claim
on the sky.

You are an upturned face
in a dim lit window

close to the place where
the bogeyman lives…

A shadow of yourself
that we have locked away.

You send letters
and write poems;
compose more songs:

lucid moments
in a galaxy
of madness –

your telescope eyes
two black holes
in space.

Music and graffiti. Blood-filled rooms.
Faded newsprint photos
stay frozen in the mind.

Sometimes there is madness in the air,
sometimes there are guitar sounds
needling the memory of the sunshine city.

Today a burst of static disrupts the music;
it ends with a gentle hiss of despair
and noise. Fading feedback. Silence.

Down here in the swamp of the city
the messages are coming through.
You’re just a shadow of ourselves.

© Rupert M Loydell


This poem was first commissioned for the first Bath Literature Festival
as a response to Charles Manson, one of the personalities featured in
Billy Jenkins’ musical suite Entertainment USA. It was later performed
on BBC Radio 2 and published in Entertainment USA: The Poems.




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