Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Free verse

Let’s celebrate the aberration, consecrate miscalculation
eulogise a solecism, christen every trip, omission,
sing the mediocre’s praises (out of tune, and time, of course) and hoarse
although we can’t endorse the fall with all
we cherish the mistake. the bend, the break, and greet it with a smile.

The owl born when the sculptor sneezed, its strange repeating symmetries
the wrinkled face, descending folds, melted, drawn, it sags forlorn
so glassy-faced and glassy-eyed, from the neck all down one side.
it slopes, like an ill-fastened cloak, chance invokes
The image of
an overweight pug
having a stroke.

Show me sub-par oil paintings,
strange things, where kings
and queens are reported
but distorted, as if through a lens
of myopia and acid
where ear and nose and chin distend,
three-fingered hands grasp blurs
room slurs with corners
yawning into awning
roof falls into floor
melt into shoulders,
windows lack both glass and view.

But most delectable
that ineffectual of spectacle
the thing that really can be beaten:
mediocre magic
tragic thaumaturges try and fail
to find the card (it’s hard)
while knives fall out of the assistant.
distant cries disguise the fact
a dove, fate-freed, tunnels the magicians’ sleeve
taking two fake notes
and one false hand.
crashing with it to the floor.

Let’s celebrate the aberration
consecrate miscalculation
eulogise a solecism,
christen every trip, omission, common and garden mistake.
Let England shake
on cheap foundations, patience vacant
as we fill our tills with things that don’t do what it says on the tin.
let us please create a land of
shoddy crafts and half-baked plans
where things ends not with whimpers or bangs
but because the piece of paper
is the wrong size.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Apprentice: I'm Half Machine

The candidate stands, basking in the light of the cameras. She preens herself, drawing her fingers through her hair, drawing attention to the hair on her fingers. She pulls her lips into a smile, and says “I’m half machine”.

“Would you care to elaborate?” the cameraman asks. This is his fourth series of The Apprentice, and he knows that he needs to get footage of the delusional hopefuls swearing that they are going to push the boundaries of the envelope, know everything there is to know about businessmanshipment, and see themselves as the Genghis Khan of moist towelette distribution in the Ashford area.

“Sure” the candidate replies. “Press me here”. She points to a spot just below her ribs. The cameraman doesn’t move. She asks him a second time. “Just here”. She places his hand on her genuine polyester-blend jacket.

He presses.

She begins to cough.

It is not a delicate cough, but the frenzied, desperate cough of the terminally ill. It is the sort of cough that is usually accompanied by blood, and by chunks of lung dropping wetly to the floor. She bends in half, clutching her stomach. Her knees buckle and she leans forwards, dropping to her hands and knees. The guttural noise becomes lower, more intense. The cameraman swears he hears something click. Her face is turning red. The cameraman wonders if he should stop filming. She arches her back, her face is crimson. The cameraman turns to the director for advice, but he is watching the scene unfold through the cracks in his fingers. There are tears in her eyes.

She splutters.

Her mouth opens.

A can of coke, sealed, edges its way out from between her lips.

The coughing stops. The can falls to the ground, and in the silence its rolling is audible. The candidate stands, brushing the dust from her knees. She stoops to pick up the can, and offers it to the cameraman. She is still panting, but starts to speak:

“My father was a vending machine”.