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.




David Erdos
Illustration Nick Victor




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