I am not at large. This morning I’m at small.
I stay inside, as inside as can be,
and I sing from songs the words I can recall.
Since I’m inside I sing them silently
but the jackdaws lipread and one takes offence
at lyrics he imagines aimed at him.
He tells a heron who becomes incensed
so much she tells the seagulls, asking them
to foul my sundeck next time they fly by.
I bribe the gulls with ginger snaps and gin.
I remind them jackdaws never are their friends.
Machiavelli’s Prince has taught me how to win
but my victory’s static, Pyrrhic. All take wing
but me. I’m grounded, and can’t even sing.
I play with memes I cannot understand
the same way I watch jackdaws fly: amazed.
A small idea grows quickly out of hand.
Reality’s all right when it is phased
but this morning I’m afflicted with entire
and edifying concepts I can’t grasp.
Whole universes soldered on a wire
of probabilities fall off voids and clasp
unto each other. Objects, each at rest,
have no precise locations I can find.
And though I’m sure I can, I am hard pressed
to prove, because it is false, that I’ve defined
‘at rest’ correctly. The memes have moved away,
as have the jackdaws. Go outside, then. Play.
François Villon (1431 – 1463?) has fascinated me since I read somewhere that he could write complete dizains at speed whilst dead drunk.
Here I attempted to write three sonnets at speed, letting the words lead the way.
He had slept 10 hours. Now, he eats a sausage,
pretends it’s a croissant, that it is morning.
Assuaging hunger, senses on a rampage,
he crosses off the saints who’ve been suborning
his thoughts with whom he ought to be instead
of who he has become, his ship come in.
He kicks the sheep and priest dogs out of bed
unsure which order adjectives abend.
Was it ‘priests and sheep dogs’? He attempts a verse.
Last wine of summers past allays his thirst.
For love and Uber he drives a blackened hearse
through streets of joy purloined until they burst –
imploded rather – and the Saints return.
They shield his eyes and make him miss his turn.
I dashed my hopes on sterling silver cups
and gold plate platters. Losing did not hurt
as much as winning had. The pain of ups
surpasses that of downs. The latter’s curt.
The former is etiolating. One last gasp
and I am free. I say goodbye to things
I thought the world of once. I break their clasp
and fly – I can now – in aspiring rings
to where air thins. I leave the troposphere.
The world below recedes. That makes me smile.
The things men fear aren’t visible from here.
Politics grow paltry from a mile
or twenty’s distance when you fly straight up.
I fire my rockets. Someone takes my cup.
I slept a while in a chair made out of gold.
The ravens kept the mice away. A song
proceeded from a holy place so old
it had decayed when history came along.
In these last days when history has died
no music graces actions of the doomed.
Atonal noise greets all those who’ve tried
to push away the apocalypse that loomed
so long we thought with luck it always would.
Modern horsemen ride on robots. They are still four.
That we forget their names is understood
but makes no difference. Nor did it before.
I wake. I run. I stumble. Ravens fly.
The world erupts in flame. All of us die.