On a clear day you can see half
of central Scotland, says the guide –
today it’s barely half an inch,
the hammerhead shape of the Wheel
a shower-curtain silhouette,
its centrifugal rotation
slow and silent, ghosted by fog,
as if rearing up from legend.
Panic is always
close, a lurker in the wings
waiting for its cue;
easy to summon
as a waiter or taxi –
isn’t put out by
snapped fingers or terse gestures,
Panic’s suave, well-groomed;
there for you before you’ve asked.
Dinner jacket, tie,
crisp white linen draped
on an arm set-square angled,
voice a dark murmur
traversing the nerves,
the veins, patterning itself
into the pauses
between breaths, heartbeats,
the steady tic of the pulse.
Panic’s in control
before you’ve even
reached for the first of the day.
Panic knows what’s best.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics
does not mean politics will not take an interest in you.
Es ist mein teil – nein!
My part was when I looked away.
My part was when my tongue ceased to function,
my conscience to even deserve the name.
My part: to embrace distraction.
My part: to sniff out and succumb to
the lure of the lowest common whatever.
My part was to allow things to happen.
My part was to sidestep involvement.
My part was to cultivate disinterest.
My part: complacency and freeview channels.
My part: I’m all right Jack, you know the rest.
My part: share or like if you couldn’t care less.
My part is a symphony in the key of nothing.
My part is a canvas by an underpainter.
Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham in 1972 and has been keeping the city's pubs in business since 1990. His poetry has appeared in The Bitchin' Kitsch, Rat's Ass Review, Black Mirror Magazine, UFO Gigolo and Horror Sleaze Trash. He is the co-editor, with David Sillitoe of the anthology More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe (Lucifer Press, 2015).