I'm standing here inside my skin,
which will do for a Human Remains Pouch
for the moment. Look down there (up there).
Quickly. Slowly. This is my front room
where I'm lost in the action. Live from a war,
on screen. I am Englishwoman. I don't understand you,
What's the matter? You are right. You are wrong.
Things are going well (badly). Am I disturbing you?
TV is showing bliss as taught to pilots:
Blend, Low silhouette, Irregular shape, Small,
Secluded. (Please write it down. Please speak slowly.)
Bliss is how it was in this very room
when I raised my body to his mouth,
when he even balanced me in the air,
or at least I thought so and yes the pilots say
yes they have caught it through the Side-Looking
Airbone Radar, and through the J-Stars.
I am expecting a gentleman (a young gentleman,
two gentlemen, some gentlemen). Please send him
(them) up at once. This is really beautiful.
Yes they have seen us, the pilots in the Kill Box
on their screens and played the routine for
getting us Stealthed, that is, Cleaned, to you and me,
Taken Out. They know how to move into a single room
like that, to send in with Pinpoint Accuracy, a hundred Harms.
I have two cases and a cardboard box. There is another
bag there. I cannot open my case-look out,
the lock is broken. Have I done enough?
Bliss the pilots say is for evasion
and escape. What's love in all this debris?
Just one person pounding another into dust,
into dust. I do not know the word for it yet.
Where is the British Consulate? Please explain.
What does it mean? What must I do? Where
can I find? What have I done? I have done
nothing. Let me pass please. I am an Englishwoman.
He's been stitched-up; two gummed, black-threaded eyes
Squint back across the decades in surprise
Through spiteful chinks of sunlight, acrid smoke,
Screwed-up against some wicked tribal joke.
His rictus has been sewn into a smile,
A tight-lipped dandy, puckered into style,
The clearing where his grisly fame began
Still broods beneath the kinks of wood-stained tan.
Flayed leather now,
his features smoked and cured,
His niche in culture gruesomely secured,
The needled grin is fixed, drawn back and set
Bone-dry in its reflective cabinet.
A hundred years ago he strayed alone
Towards this room of ritual skin and bone,
Believed in spirits, drank, was secretive
With knives and fish-hooks, dreamed his seed would live,
Sheathed his penis, sweated half the night
On invocations, prayed, prepared to fight,
And felt, perhaps, the moon's leaf-parted shine
Move up his legs and bathe his severed spine;
His head hacked off, half-baked into this face
That swings and grins inside its airless case.
Hung-up, he seems to twitch at each dropped word,
As if, although we whisper, he had heard,
And stares through us to what we cannot see,
Our unstitched smiles, their pale atrocity.
“I remember an initial and very real sense of affirmation. Robert Frost reminds us that the term “poet” is a praise word, a title given to us by others. So that phone call from the Poetry Society was, for me, a kind of bestowal.”