When they found the wreck, many years later | the jewels in the barrels | guns in oil | the wings broken to stubs | I still want to | take a shot at salvation |     | And when they saw what had gone down | did they understand? | No! Not at all | And the jungle creepers | made a nest of the cockpit | that was my future | and maybe it will be again? |      | We’ve seen evenings before | we’ve walked down this | fire-gutted corridor before | We’ve seen the chef’s sharpest knife | wrapped up in ochre silk cloth | before | and we’ve written poems before, and | mislaid them in a book somewhere, not in Cammeray | or in the flushed, Arthurian green | of the cottage in Cornwall | we know the score | we just | can’t quite get the music… |      | The head, poking out of the leather | the mushroom | skull peeping out of the face | the bones of the hands in the great gauntlets | the fingers | playing abstractedly on the keys | of a stand-up piano — old things, old | dry things | you want to put a kick in the echo | follow the fuse | as it fizzles and snarls | lilac and violet | and we remember | the gunpowder | doesn’t question the spark | shall I take a | shot at salvation, for a while?

So we opened up the throttle | and we could see | it was an old romantic notion | grey-blue as the smoke | from Bogart’s cigarettes |       | the monkeys hooted and barked | squalled and fled | what does it matter | if the angel is mechanical | so long as it has wings? |      | Then we go in | to the basement garage | after a king tide and a supermoon | in the ankle-deep water | see the octopus flaring | limbs over the concrete | its chute all blown |      | And we keep the motor running | on the moss and the malachite | a fairy orchestra | of mites and ticks and sighs |      | And do they give the prizes out? | No! Not till the wire | has reached | all the way | through the throat, then | they’ll show their wonder, baby | and then, they’ll grant their lucre and their smiles |      | Yes, we’ve opened up the JD | yes, we’ve watched the soldiers with their dice | carved from ivory | and we ran straight out the hotel | through the lobby with the firemen | but we couldn’t find the right words | not even | the wrong words |       | it was a dirty silence | and he had won the medals | had been mentioned in despatches | but when they rummaged through the diamonds | and the emeralds | and all that | ancient junk | in Miami | we fell asleep in the Mirador | after picking out the needles | and stuffing the beginning | hard into the end |      | we sorta knew | it was our past | we sorta wondered | whether it would be again?

Did they stand and applaud? — when the snakes came out | of where the eyes used to be? | and cut the white lard from the slab | rake their fingers through the myrrh | shoot the rare fantails from the branches | wipe their arses with pages | from the Bible or the Bard | did they stand and applaud | when they tasted Pharaoh’s honey | or slipped from glassine bags | Fugitive or First Class? | No! | They stayed in the theatre | stumped in their seats | while the feature played | over and over | and they pulled their fire shirts | over their naked bodies | then no one | could put them down |       | so we went without fanfare | and our voices | were gradually pummelled | and split from shards of bad kisses | and packs of museum honour | bits of glass chivalry | of purple and bronze | and crushed | and overturned | and further pummelled and crushed and smashed | in the waterfall’s roar | of the rumbling hooves | of the last stampede | in the wake of the dust | of the rush of dead horses

Advertisements