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The Last Checkout

The queue went on for miles.

Children did somersaults
over the trolleys,
or kept asking questions:
Are we nearly there yet?
Are we nearly there yet?

Young couples started
to argue with each other.
Old couples
complained about the service.
Fishfingers
started to melt,
and drip onto the floor.

And when you finaly got there,
the sign said
YOU CAN'T TAKE ANYTHING WITH YOU.
You start and finish
with an empty trolley.
So true.

My receipt
was seventy years long.

Many people
ignored the sign. Some,
weighed down by shopping bags
full of frozen pizza,
sank without trace
into the brown, oozing lino.

Others made it to the door,
only to fall to earth
as they stepped out
onto the clouds.

A few people said so what
you can keep the lot,
and walked on
to the stars.


Ranter

Would they let him in?

He'd have to sound convincing. For a start,
he'd need a name - you know,
the sort that sounds
uncrackable, as if
he'd lived with it for years.

He'd need a reason, too.
This proved more difficult. It was not enough
to be the life and soul of the poem. They'd
see through that, they'd know
he'd almost certainly get pissed, then try
to set the universe to rights, grasping the sleeves 
of exasperated punters. That's when
things always start to go wrong, he thought. In the end,
they'd have to throw him out.

"You bastards, I made you." He could hear himself slur, skidding
in a pool of his own vomit. "Where would you be 
without me?" And then:

"I think we've had enough, sir."

"Bastards..."  "Goodnight, sir."

Back to the street.
He'd have to think of something else.
He could make promises:
he'd keep his clothes on, only relieve himself
in the appropriate place, not puke
on the floor, keep his ideas to himself, even, though
what's the point? he thought. I'd
most likely break them, along with the glasses, and
perhaps its not my sort of place after all.
Perhaps I just want to get out of the rain.

He might just take a bus instead.
Invent the route. Watch himself
stretched out across an empty seat
reflected in the darkness of the glass.

He might end up anywhere, might even rediscover
dragons


The Get-Out

The god of excuses
could get away with anything.
"Look," he said, (his hand in the robe
of the headman's daughter),
"what goes in Heaven
goes on Earth."

He was a god 
of many faces.

As War and Fertility
he straddled the world
indifferently.

As Death, he shrugged,
driven at last into a corner -
"what else could I do?"
he said.


English

One day at school
our english teacher
handed out the poetry books.

He made us read
a short, sad story of rejection
by one Wole Soyenka.

          It seemed
a strange poem to find
in a place like that:
one of those grubby, hardback schoolbooks
full of poems about animals
full of in-your-face similes
illustrating the power of
the english language. 
          
          But then
it was not a poem,
the english teacher said. It was 
just prose chopped up and
not a rhyme in sight.

He sucked his teeth, in case
a few stray syllables had lodged
between them.


Give me a nice old wooly sweater any day
a haiku

I've never slipped on
a banana skin. But then
I'm no banana.


Banana haiku for cait collins

 A cigar is a 
cigar, Freud said. If only 
he'd smoked bananas.
 

Station

for Malcolm

You had "The Birth of Venus" pinned where you could see,
Beyond the bed. A modest nude to contemplate.
A feat of balance, standing on that shell, at sea.

Poised between the Carnal and the Ultimate,
You talked about the art of painting, pointed out
How Botticelli's composition-lines relate
To a Matisse, the things New Masters learnt about
The Old. You took a pencil-stub to demonstrate.

What deprivations of the Underworld assailed
Your mind, or bright Venusian dreams tormented you?
You'd seen so much - you thought you knew what death entailed:
"Talk about art? Why not? What else is there to do?"

An atheist, you doubted Heaven, doubted Hell.
More fitting, to be borne away upon the Shell.


Gothic

The hand that gripped my face
from behind
trembled,
smelt of fresh earth.

The old man again.

Suddenly, I awoke
to find myself
in a bright-lit room,
watching
a sinister finger
intently.

This will never do
it said. And then,

suddenly, I awoke
to find myself
eating a spider
one leg at a time.

I was going to save
the best,
the bulbous middle bit
till last, but

suddenly, I awoke
to find myself
standing on a trapdoor.

Are the sharks ready?
said a man
in a rubber suit.

He produced
a legless spider, on a plate.

Suddenly, I awoke
to find myself


Porthmadog Harbour

Lit by the streetlights, glimpsed between the boats
like a patterned carpet in a cluttered room,
the water-surface looks confused: pulled
one way by the wind, the other by the moon. 

Sheets tap the metal masts like distant cowbells - 
	temple music - darkness - while
at the other end, the bar's lit up, the jukebox  
	blares - oblivious -


Flood

The river overflowed:
and the water turned the parapet of the bridge
into the prow of a ship, and surged
through the wire fence
that filtered out the loose stuff:
straw, broken branches, fertiliser bags.
I had to stop.

-So what, I said to myself.
Work is over-rated. We are slaves 
to clocks. I pulled the car off the road,
turned on the radio,
admired the view: wondered
at the sinuous quality
        of a massive quantity of water,
forcing its way
through a gap in a wall.


The Lone Ranger

After three days 
of muzak, fagsmoke and
unanswered telephones
(the giro never showed) he stole
a packet of gum
and a Buffalo Cowboy Set
in a sunbleached cardboard box
from a fascist in a clothcap
who was otherwise engaged
complaining loudly about
the new asian videostore.

He made his way to the Post Office.
This is a stickup he said.
Don't make me laugh, she said. Go home.
So he pulled the trigger
again and again, going
bang bang bang, bang bang.

I'll phone the police, she said.
You can't you're dead, he said. She
picked up the phone. He turned the gun
on himself. Bang he said

so this is heaven

(c)Dominic Rivron 2000

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