Sunday, 13 March 2016


“Shantytowns or Shantih shantih shantih?”,
Asks an elderly gentleman over a brandy,
And it sets you to wonder why you bother
With books at all, with drama on telly,
With make-believe acts against make-believe friends,
With gallery idling while the world ends.

The question clings to you like a starving child
Tugging your shirt as you pick out new tiles
For a garden patio so elegant, so orderly
(Patterned on Pompeii, which makes it okay):
Lazy lapis lazuli casts languor on a Sunday in June,
And you can’t see anyone drown from your room.

Slowly, perhaps, your mind calms from its conga,
You recognise Mephisto as the very first Wonga,
So the naked children must all have been Faust’s,
And fists, fists, fists are all that they’ve known.
Was the stupor the symptom or was it the cause?
Until you choose action, are you stuck in its jaws?

Should you burn your books, and head for Peru?
Should you thank Eliot for showing you you?
Should you scratch that itch with a realist’s knife?
Should you right the world’s wrongs – or write them instead?
Should you tussle with Nietzsche on the abyss’ brink?
Should you do? Should you not? Should you dare? Should you think?
(Mar 2016)

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