The Last Century’s Late Modernism


“One hastens to halve the compact, another laughing, a third
grim parodist who has ripped me off
his speculum up on the mare
gets shot
of the treatment group, in control
of the man whose shoulder budded
a member, thin tendril of blood.”

They don’t recognise me as a new boy, trapped
by pawned lineation in the stinking heat
an enamel of not giving in gets sold for kudos
old books of mine, that I signed, are remaining mute today.

Allow for press delay, sure, but the standing figure waves
me in to a Klondike even I don’t covet.
The skin, and the marble, both take light. I’m anchored
in the dried-up bay in a holed barque

quite adequate to the occasion and the line of fit.
The land is locked and fat and in its fifties.
Geology is a fiction. For morose drifters
it’s too much like hard graft, and the scion’s lifting off.

A cultivated space preventing transfer
to long-term memory is an act of war
on need. The sharp, explosive cry of envy
got me this way because I want the desert.

The man who missed the point of no return deposits
sand on the path he chose. Obliterates it.
It wasn’t a real desert, just a sandpit.
I rake the pit and lose the bloody thread.

First published in Quid magazine, issue one, 1999.  Reprinted in For the Good of Liars.

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