If I Had Pages Just to Write On

This poem was highly commended in the Poetry Kit Spring Competition 2018.


i saw Karl Marx in KFC,
beard greasy like an unwashed pan.
He was wearing a t-shirt that said
Revolution starts with a happy meal.
i guess he mixed his adverts up, poor guy.
Sometimes i’m just sitting there
and i hear Harry Belafonte, oh lovely
Belafonte, singing to me, and his backing
singers are smokier than a nineteenth
century canal. Ooh, i work all night
                        and i drink a rum
                        (stack banana
                        till the daylight come)
i feel the highly deadly silken
shirt he wears wherever he goes,
it strokes me as he walks by.
(And i suck the warm smoke
from his breath.)
i also herald great disappointment
every time i turn
to Socrates, standing between
him and sleepy Asclepius.
Once he’d sacrificed
the cockerel and we’d
said goodbye to the king,
we kissed for a long time,
my bloated strips of diesel
mouth-fuel locked around
his lazy tongue. There is nothing
quite like a night with me
and Asclepius, once Socrates
has been put down
in silence with the market
and the community.
i love to watch the furnace,
keep my hands warm
in front of history. There is wine,
there beside the fire,
and a finger to mark
our eternities in the sand,
looking on with sepia
filters, nostalgic for the myth
that once everything
was better than now.
i’m not busy. We can stay
beside this burning hour,
with the wine and the sand
for as long as you like.
The first thing i asked
when i met Derrida was, why
the hell isn’t Derrida here?
this is just the kind of thing
he’d love. He looked at me,
barely caring, trying to light
a cigarette in the wind. Everything
i felt was absence.
You know who i’ve always
wanted to be? This’ll shock
you, this one will.
Candi Staton. Always
loved her. And my love
for her is probably
the only thing that keeps
on growing as i get older.
i get sadder, this is also
true, i get sadder as the years
consume me, absorbing
time into my skin and becoming
the person who has lived
a little more, the person
who is slightly sadder,
but who still loves
Candi Staton.
The moment i remember
most, the one defining screen
covering my eyes at this
quiet stage of ending,
is the feeling of a weak
forever. The feeling
when you wake up
and realize that everything
is exactly the same.
No exciting thugs in steel-caps
broke in at night, no storms
collapsed the windowpanes,
nobody had the heart
to move your slippers or clear
the whisky glasses.
That strange feeling
of a weak eternity
is what i remember most.
it was great to see you,
i’m glad you came, although
i can’t think of exotic
ways to say it. If i had pages
just to write on, to infinitely
say how i feel, i could maybe
keep you here.
But then i guess
not even all the trees
i’ve ever seen
could hold my thoughts of you.