From the rivers and hills, the road stumbles and sinks
through rain and the core of a streetscape down
to this universal hotel – grey, warm, unremittingly upbeat –
with corridor sensors and speaking lift, a standard room
holding an opinion of the uncontrollable suburbs
and taxis with freedom of the city. The carpet hates us.
Looking for his signature, we find the Klee upside-down
and a squat black arrow showing us the door,
the wallpaper aligned like a fence under the dado rail.
You get what you pay for, sex accepted and the day-job
put to bed. But everyone is in the same boat, fearless away
from home and none too keen to return. Then the night
is with us, the curtains overlapped, and at full stretch
we lie in Freudian doldrums with the death rattle of crates,
a dance-floor’s bump and grind below us, and you snoring,
twitching, then talking, amazed how easy it is to get lost
when we should be more like a new road taking nothing
for granted except to end up somewhere for good reason.
The wind changes direction and you are lost
in the furthest hills. More fields, and in the one town,
one light on a wet street, an empty figure shaking
its empty head at what it must do to save face.
A beautiful woman, her mouth a glorious sewer.
In vino veritas. In her head she excuses herself
as we try to marry the voice to the face. Forget
the blouse, she says, it's someone else's blood.
The ventriloquist doll is a child to be controlled.
That is the greatest fear. The face fights back,
the eyes rolling over white inside the head.
The scariest monster always takes human form.
Giving head, and a life pissed up the wall.
A fall from grace. The way dreams are dispelled.
The veritable shambles she has to face
now she is really awake in an unfriendly bed.
A creature with clean nails is ahead of the game,
prowling for schoolgirls with faces like painted dolls.
No poetry in this, but you would be wrong:
the set homework is a four-line epic of their day.
Thrash, post-nuclear, industrial metal, thought-death,
finger on the pulse, Starlighter, The Pheromones,
doubtless bands that chop and slice. A Prussian sun,
angled low and straight, gilds windows and spires,
and slams dissipating contrail chromosomes
strung out against the stonewashed blue ripped
by the ice-sharp dazzle of jets. Eyeliner takes away
the pain. Beauty is sanguine youth. Earphones
the size of hearing-aids drop free as the screen
yells for you to speak into a sliver of metal and dust,
a lover, a gaggle of super-dooper hormones
stretching the expense of the call to over the usual.
You listen and argue, your interest only rising
when you hear the treble of her voice, its overtones
of grudge and spite: now is everything, not the past,
cancel the muffled world of easy listeners
and connect delirious nerves, blood and bones,
to these sounds of heaven-sent fury and breath.