Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Neil Fulwood- Three Poems

The City as Anti-Hero 
(after Weldon Kees)

The city as
cigarette-dimped chaise-longue
in a backstreet psychiatrist’s office:
lie back and tell me all about it
but pay in advance, cash in hand.
The city as
hooker with a heart of gold,
sympathetic to your variations
on a theme of my wife doesn’t
understand me. Her pimp not so.
The city as
broken-down pugilist, desperate
for the few bucks pay-off of that
dive-in-the-fifth agreement, wide
open to each blow to the conscience.
The city as
dirty cop, shakedowns and kickbacks
and favours and payoffs, throw-down
guns and planted evidence, a crick
in the neck from looking the other way.
The city as
barfly, as brawler, as pickpocket;
the city as gambler, as junkie,
as poet; the city as witness, as liar,
as gangster; the city as hypocrite.

Jack the Ripper Glimpses the Future

He sees his legacy ridicule itself
across a century or more
and reels back from the rift
in the damp smoky fabric 
of this evening, the knife-slash
through to the future
that granted him this glimpse.

The cinematographs are abysmal,
far-fetched concoctions 
of sound and colour. Unthinkable
in their length. The clumsiness
of their efforts to usurp the novel.

A song - worse than the silliest
music hall ditty. The caterwauling
of somesuch lord or other.
And the dreadful speculative tomes
that have him as royalty
or physician to royalty, hack
penmanship lapping up conspiracy
and missing the point. The simple,
beautiful scalpel-sharp point:

that some things are done
for the sheer love of blood 
and the blade. But not now. Not
if this is how history will serve him.

The letter gets no further than
"Dear Boss". Candle-flame burns back
the salutation. His leather apron,
folded, joins tools and mementoes
in a black bag that was always
an affectation, at best a red herring;
the lot of it propelled overarm
into a fetid stretch of the Thames.

Fog. Gas-lamps. A man trying
to blot out his mind. The pubs 
of Whitechapel are calling his name
like voices perfuming the shadows.

You Say “Grammar Nazi” Like It’s a Bad Thing
First we came for the Facebook users,
clamping down on their LOLs and OMGs,
their all-in-capitals status updates
or their lower case crimes against
the shift key, e.e. cummings mixing
vodka shots with an energy drink.
Then we came for Tumblr and Pinterest,
incensed by the visual given dominion
over grammar and syntax. We stamped down
on anything tagged or hashtagged.
We rounded up demotivational posters
and their misused apostrophes. We enforced
the Oxford comma and knew the difference
between simile and metaphor. Those
who professed to know nothing or know
better felt the brunt of our pedantry.
We came for the selfies. We came
for the smileys. We came for YOLO –
we proved it right. It did, in fact, only
live once. We came for clickbait and pictures
of cute animals. We didn’t give a shit
about when you see it you’ll shit bricks.
We frowned upon bricks misspelled
as B-R-I-X. That pissed us off royally.
We saw to it that social media
was disenfranchished. Then we came
for the corporations. Emails written
in non-speak: performance indicators,
benchmarking, going forward, peg
in the sand. SOPs, TLAs. Entire screeds
rammed into the subject line, the body
of the email an exercise in negative space.
Quality reports, corporate brochures,
press releases. Job descriptions, fine print,
zero hour contracts, secrecy clauses,
lawyers’ briefs. We came for the lawyers, too. 

Neil Fulwood is the author of film studies book The Films of Sam Peckinpah. His poetry has appeared in Butcher's Dog, Art Decades, The Screech Owl, Your One Phone Call and Medusa's Kitchen. He's married, holds down a day job and subsidizes several real ale pubs. 

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