UpStart is a non-profit voluntary arts collective.

Published: 2418 days ago

Poem of the Day, William Wall, Behind a hospital somewhere in Italy

Behind a hospital somewhere in Italy

carrion of self
in pits of hospital waste
used mattresses
discarded sharps
still the scintilla
of human blood
the dream-colour
of lips nipples penistips
this is the throat of the world
& we pour down
our toxic secondhand
second hands
& kidneys
& pre-used foetuses
& ex-brains
I am not well at all
but I listen to doom
on the carbon jukebox
like listening to Bartók
as if the evening
of our testicular trading
were not already
upon us
the new world order
already passé
in the groves of north London
where carbon trading
happens on a bendy-bus
between shortfalls of small change
& short-taken accountants
selling each other bets
on bets on longshots
or on the bourse
where nobody knows
because the calculations
have a half-life of a million years
& there is not enough energy
in the planet
to power the indictment
I am not well at all
but I go out into hinterlands
like a firecracker
I follow the intellectual piper
into any old mountain
like a rat or a child
& when I go in
I stay in for as long
as I can hold my breath
I come out ten years later
older & wiser
unable to stand the light
with a compromised
immune system
& a bad chest
I am not well at all
but I take steroids
& marijuana
when I can get it
& as much fine wine as possible
& I take my wife to the pictures
or she takes me
we who resent happy endings
because this old ball of shit
rolling round in its diurnal course
is all that we have
no stepping off
no nextstopmindthegap
don’t forget to touch
your oyster
I am not well at all
& standing here
on the tip
the black ash of the soul
that murder made
representing what we do
to each other
in the simple metaphor
of a discarded cannula
I feel light-headed
& alone
I am not well at all
& none of us are
who drank our hearts out
in the smoke-filled bars
& ballad lounges
& drove our drunken rallies
round the back-road girls
who didn’t want to hear about us
our very own
long night of the underman
who grew up
& became overman
& property developers
enveloping fields in cladding
inventing an empty
language for the flat world
driving secondhand
& bottle-blond
trophy women
who fucked
once upon a time
the secondhand
clock of the world
like there were no yesterdays

William Wall is the author of four novels, a volume of short fiction and three collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Ghost Estate, from which this poem is taken, is published by Salmon Poetry in April 2011. For more about that collection and for his blog, go here.

Have a Comment?

five + 1 =

Some HTML is OK