You are here again. Here, not here.
There. Not here.
My genie of the dried-out leaves,
bark in bottles, spirit of the long
tail-end of summer,
grass parched in a baseball diamond,
spices in bottles, a bleached cool, alcohol.
And the sharp flat crack that breaks the bottles,
you are always here
again.

Undress me. Take me beyond the mirrors,
out into the forest:
shoot me in the back of the head,
I want you to.
We all need a change sometimes,
we need to grow.
Take off that old Velvet Underground,
put on some music from Turkey, perhaps,
or maybe Kashmir —
stroke my long black hair
out of my eyes,
lying on a rug the colour of pomegranates
mixed with persimmons.
Shoot me in the side of my head,
blow my brains across the rug
and the wooden floorboards,
a grisly thistledown.
I know, I know: I ask so much.
I’m just too old, and my morals
have grown lax.
Indolence is my vocation now,
what can you say? But at the end,
lead me from the forest,
put me back in the mirrors,
dress me. That’s enough. Enough. I’ll do.

I’ve been writing my memoir.
That whole year, planes fell out of the sky
in a long series,
disaster was a monotony.
The call of the crowd was like the call of wolves.
You told me
I miss those days in Hell,
at least we had some security.
And the room was in a bottle,
and the bed was in a pill,
so I started my memoir
of the days we first met,
back in the seventies,
when you wore a pantsuit.

I dreamed of squatting on a veranda
of teak or mahogany,
smoking a cheroot, watching the eternal teem
of monsoon rain, not a bill to pay.
We still made love, desultorily,
although you complained
of the smell of my body, the soil
in my mouth and eyes
from the grave.
You propped me up in a corner of summer,
we kept talking of a change of scene.
The record turned, the needle
scored in its groove
after the best track and the far-off
fat fry of the static came the
bump bump bump, and if we didn’t move
we were too wasted,
or we simply weren’t there at all,
just like we aren’t here,
and were never and are always here,
waiting for the sharp flat crack
that breaks the mirrors,
and the trees, and the sky…
well, everything.

But the mermaids were wrong.
They didn’t understand
the nature of a change of subject.
The wolves were wrong, too —
and the saints, the robots and the prisoners.
Still, the mermaids, and the mermen,
looked beautiful as they sang and swam
across the bed of the lagoon,
the water very clear,
like water from beneath the desert,
and in the transparent coils
and eddies of the tides and currents,
their scales, of platinum or silver-chrome
shone to a distraction,
and their curling, abundant hair
lifted upwards in fluid clouds and swirls
as they turned their heads above the corals
caught the moonlight in wavering ripples
and the rays
refracted broke but didn’t break
and fanned and ebbed
and flowed aslant:
they were wrong, those mermaids and mermen,
when they thought:
If enough of us sing,
it will be important.

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