Pride of Place
‘As soon as you give up being alone, all is lost.’ Mihail Sebastian
All Souls Alone
Although we’ll be all dead in the foreseeable,
it’s normal to behave as though you are immortal.
If I’m still here in ten years time I’ll be doing well
but am I making my peace with the world? No, hell
is paved with those who become sentimental
at the eleventh hour. I’ll go down making trouble.
The more I know about man,
my fellows, the less I am
inclined to countenance
our existence. The world began
badly for what is human,
and worsens with continuance.
Who said I’m morbid?
Rot the thought, I’m not.
Morgue humour I forbid
myself. But to get shot
of feelings I have hid
all my life, I have got
to say how perfid-
ious life is. Begot,
for what? The allot-
ed pain till we’re not.
Come now, my sad sot.
There’s joy and love to boot,
and the Arts, even God.
What passes for the truth
feels good. Give life the nod.
You too can be a newt
that swims when Aaron’s rod
strikes the rock. You must shoot
through the water till caught
by some creature and cooked.
Let me be a monad.
I’d feel less of a fool
at one with my own lot
than being a molecule
under the atom’s rule.
Sense tells you lick your own scars.
Others can’t be depended on.
Living with them is a farce,
with a side show of cancan.
I prefer solitary wars
between myself and my con-.
scious. Sure, I’m an also-ran,
but at least I’m not the horse.
I’m the jockey without one.
‘Kiss my hand, not my arse’,
said the saint. ‘A baisse-main
is other worldly. Man
does not live only on
pain quotidien. Sliced pan
is our manna from Mars.
Our daily bread has run
out and the spirit starves.’
I’m at the height of my weakness.
So don’t regard me as finished.
I haven’t yet scraped the bottom.
I’ve plunged in sentiment’s seaweed
and seen strange fish kiss each other
(who’s trying to eat who, I ask?).
Wave me to sleep in my grotto
of decline where the ocean knows
no renewal now, other than
recycling its waste. Nothing new
in the deep anymore. Only
the old growing into the fresh.
I see the world. It’s black and white.
And all the eyes are white and blue.
And all the eyes are weeping too.
And all the eyes have lost their sight.
The world I see that’s black and white
closes its eyes, closes its eyes.
Low and behold, what a surprise.
Everything seems to be all right.
The black and white that does not see,
except the darkness in the light,
is the black and white that is me.
The blue is gone and it is night.
Maybe I should deaden the echoes of concurrent woes
by moving my head around. The cliff-face is upside-down.
And the sea, supported by gravity, is now the sky.
What’s under me is ozone in free state, and so a stone
dropped into it will be returning. I sit on a cloud,
and risk a laugh that’s out loud. Its come back will dethrone me.