Butler with Umbrella
A thing for umbrellas,
a thing for beaches, a thing
for cool guys in sharp suits
and the lithe muscularity
of the female form.
None of which
improves the lot in life
of our man in the hat
and the dinner jacket, his face
turned towards the sea.
Clouds and an autumn bluster,
but no smear, yet, of rain.
Flecks of sunlight
on damp trampled sand
but no reason to unfurl
a parasol. Nonetheless,
a requirement of him
as third party to the dance,
a shadow at arm’s length.
Given the chance, he’d rather
square a windbreak
in the lee of a sandbank,
into the soggy purchase
of a shifting surface
then claim an hour’s reward
in the warmth of the car,
the radio’s fuzz smoothed
by Sinatra, the pretty
people left to themselves.
The Face of the Earth
A Wisconsin court has banned a local man from
all the libraries on the planet after he was caught
openly masturbating inside the Racine Public
Library … His bond was set at $1,000 on one
condition: That he “stay out of all the libraries
on the face of the earth.”
- Gawker.com, 15 March 2013
They were slow with the paperwork
the day he jumped bail. By the time
the news agencies picked up the story,
it was a safe bet he was out of the country.
Grainy footage from a security camera
and reports of someone at an airport bookstall
getting over-excited by the new releases.
A dozen bestsellers were sent to forensics.
His picture and rap sheet went to the wire.
The misdemeanour was described
as lewd conduct involving a hardback,
title and author discreetly redacted.
Things moved fast. Interpol took up
the chase. Scotland Yard put their best men
on the case. But he’d already struck
at libraries in London, Madrid, Innsbruck,
Dusseldorf, Lisbon and Rome. His traces
were evident, his calling card filed under
“o” for onanism, “p” for pocket snooker
and “w” for … well, you get the picture.
Now the net’s tightening, his library card
is marked. At last week’s press conference,
there were steely assurances from a senior officer
of an arrest happening sooner rather than later.
But there are no new leads. The trail’s
gone cold. And he’s out there, somewhere
on the face of the earth, a lonely figure
trekking silently through gale or blizzard,
resolute; as sure in his faith as a priest.
In the high Himalayas or Siberian wastes,
he’s seeking the most obscure libraries
in the world, the fabled repositories
of forbidden and forgotten texts. He dreams
of candles, parchment, heavy wooden doors
that will stand open and let him enter,
and all of the books that await his pleasure.
No Avoiding It
It’s Sunday evening, pushing midnight, and what’s left
in the wine bottle is apportioning itself
into the early stretches of Monday morning. It’s 1AM
and there’s another chapter to read or the depths
of freeview to explore and there’s always
Jack Daniels or Southern Comfort by way of a nightcap.
It’s dark and your toe seeks out hard surfaces
to stub itself on, anything and everything
between the bedroom and the kitchen; it’s somewhere
between late and early and your throat is sandpaper
without a lath of wood to fetch up to smoothness;
the glass throws itself from the cupboard, the tap
finds a way to dispense cold water like a bullet.
Then it’s the time you set the alarm for and your clock
or your moby is simply an assemblage
of circuitry and bits of plastic but you curse it
like it was personal, like it held a grudge against you
and you against it, the Hatfields and the McCoys
squaring off along the dusty main street
of Monday morning, the saloon way behind you
and the loaded gun of the working week
drawn faster than you could ever match, cocked
and levelled, the single eye of its barrel
staring you down, and not even the whistle
of a train in the distance, not even the chance