No 169 - 2002
Do things belong to us or we to them?
I think that we belong to things.
Your shoes are full of you. Will you ever wear them again?
I watch you, on the cusp between living and dying,
Fretting about our things. ‘Mind the bags,’ you shout when
They wheel you to the operation.
You beam when they return
Your watch and wedding ring
As if these little silvery things
Could bring you to yourself again.
Marx said, in 1866 I think,
That we’ve become more like the machines we tend
And they’ve become more human.
I hear the constant singing of the thing
Dispensing minerals and vitamins
Dripping into your veins, that keep collapsing,
In flight from this machine. Their flight’s what makes it sing,
Begging them to open. Things fly to us, they drink us in.
If days are what we live in, so are things.
And they can turn against us. The food machine
Won’t stop bleeping. Because you've moved your hand, there’s an
And on the night shift, two little Nazi women
Keep us both awake, shouting that you keep still
For the machine. What am I doing, they yell. Sleeping?
And instruct me which buttons to press, if it bleeps again,
After I’ve moved your hand to the required position.
I watch you, tranquillised, blood draining
Into bottles either side your bed, antibiotics dripping
Into you for any lurking fever.
No work, alcohol, cigarettes or sex.
Your very own vita negativa.
If you live, there are some things I’ll treasure,
Not for themselves, for how they nourish life together:
The cups, plates, milk-jug, Maria
Threw for us, and baked, and glazed. Ahora,
Now. They feed the present moment, spoor
Past and present into a wished-for future
Where we can help each other eat and drink
And, when it's time for one of us to go, wherever,
This time, on the cusp, on a night of tormentosa,
When all the old things lost their glamour
And there was just your face, hollow with pain,
Waiting for it to be over.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The