Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coming of Age



Like this -
we stand, side by side
in long, black sheds,
which spit out
so many dead mates
per day,
and when HE says so
we jump to it,
caress the stinking metal,
soothe it.


The factory
was a prison,
until they smashed all the bars
and butchered the jailers,
in one day.


That day,
when my kind machine
had put me to rest,
my mate came up and said -
Seeing how it’s a special day,
me and the lads
we got together,
you know what I mean.


Leaving the floor
was like an operation,
an amputation,
which lifted away
the pain,
but from time to time
the stump would ache
and ache.


Sure enough,
they were waiting outside
looking at each other
in anticipation
of my eyes -
and it was a bloody watch!
A watch to time
my slow death by,
a bloody watch?
But I smiled
and said -
Thanks lads,
thanks a lot.


An obsession
is not a mistake,
it is a device
to help you
to forget.


Later
when they were stuffing my face,
and later still
when I had drunk myself stupid,
I could hear it
ticking inside my head.
I knew that it would soon be
too late.


A forgetful man
blots out
fragments of his existence.
They never
commit
anything.


The flic
swaggered through the door
calling his cognac.
I saw
the white holster
bouncing past my face,
and I called out
in my stupour -
Is it real?
His teeth glinted
maliciously -
Do you really want to find out?
I stand up -
Of course, let me see.
The lads -
Go on, go on
it’s his day
today!
I took it from him
playfully.
- I shall execute you
I said,
childishly,
and lined him up,
my hand steady.
He smiled and raised his glass
to me!
He was still smiling and ticking
when I squeezed
with all my remaining strength.
It was that simple,
my short story.

A return to juvenilia. This was the second of the cycle of six which won me the English Medal almost 40 years ago. That makes three you've had so far. It's like looking at the work of a complete stranger. I think the central idea was OK, based on the report of a real life event, but as for the final structure and development, it makes me wince. Is honesty and openess the best policy, I muse?

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