Wednesday, 23 January 2013

On the Intractability of Things

On a summer morning before eight
The sun may be shining, the kitchen
   Table warm, your mail already
      Delivered – so what? Stupid

With sleep you are furious – the bread
Won’t fit in the toaster and like a
   Five year old you are furious.
      Gloom like a headache invades

Your skull as the insensate glut of
Things – toaster, kettle, the leaking ’fridge
   Door – mocks your bad-tempered haste. It
      Has never been otherwise –

Always the miles gloriosus,
Man with his brainbox and two strong arms
   Embracing the stage of Event,
      Has torn the curtains or slashed

His ankle with his swollen sword. In
Phone booths a thousand coins are stuck, yet
   Purposeful in the morning light
      Production lines simmer, plans

In the office are all agog for
A fail-safe device which cannot fail.
   How galling it is that these things
      To which we gave order, for

Which we moulded strip-metal, arranged
Petro-chemicals in purities
   Of plastic, should lounge on their shelves
      In domestic aplomb. When

I pause for a second their puerile
Chorus of faint tinny sounds mocks my
   Stymied intelligence. They are
      Going to outlast me! Lost

On some dump, perhaps, but cocky with
Chrome, wire fingers raised to the air; whilst
   I, departing this life in a
      Shudder of atoms, lose hold

On the flakes of my flesh. How quickly
A silky skin lies down to folded
   Defeat! No one is lucky; those
      Who inhabit a ripe old

Age, nursing grand thoughts and adequate
Limbs, are as doomed as the runt who, pushed
   Into clerking and furnished rooms,
      Howls and dies of despair. Flesh

Takes its own turnings; no struggles with
Breakfast gadgets will divert its rage
   To dissolve in the mudflats of
      Matter. It is, after all,

Our most intractable creation.
Deep in the frothy crock of my brain
   Electrical charges stutter;
      My hand goes grey like a cloud.

© January 1982


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