Thursday, 24 September 2009

One Poem by Chris McCabe

Prac Crit

Your face: a foetus’ sense of Christmas trapped in a Chinese lantern.
White, drained, wan, drawn –
open & expectant to receive,
innocent as can be expected after living with us.

I just wanted to say, the only reason we did it –
the basement traps in Dallas St., Havelock St.,
the BA Honours done waiting to jump from the bin,
the weight of the water tipped from the window,
an unfair game with lasers after we’d drained your batteries,
the Valentines’ card written out to you
not from one, but two lesbian girls –
your heart turned over like the city’s first pink cab –
all your forced gusto for Kronenbourg, a pint of numbers,
Sambuca, Tennants’ Extra – long days at Bar Variety –
the bands, the fans, what’s in, what’s out
(for Delboy, Rodders & Uncle Albert)
Squires on Monday, Tokyo Joe’s Tuesday, Polygon Saturday,
your shoes hidden as you slept – left in the cab mate –
the boot polish on your face as you woke like a bleached minstrel,
the trousers we tried to free you from on your 21st
an intervention from a stranger on Hardman St.,
all the wind-ups – I’ve just been jumped by a gang,
look at my ribs – the rat pellets dissolved in your brew
and photographed as you read MAY CAUSE DEATH
IF CONSUMED, a collapse of a smile still around your lips
as your hair grew for the moon that year
– Moth-head, Bulkhead, a bowling ball of fuzz –
which meant you missed the frisson of my forehead against the bridge
of a cokehead’s nose, a cue flailed,
the ivory option of a pool ball unexpected in the hand
and we ran through Preston
like that was the way to write a dissertation
so how could we joke, the following week
that that was them at the front door to get us back
– grab a bat, a bar, make a stand –
but you were already in the kitchen, the latch stuck,
tugging for your life like a Yale Electrotherapy Case
and when you broke into the yard and onto the escape route we’d made
– adobe wall crumbled under your cons until you hugged the terrace wall –
you turned to expect blood, brawn, brains, a brawl
and saw us pointing, laughing, deranged
in the endorphin rush of how sick we could be to think this up

And the graduate in me said: we only did it because we like you mate

Reprinted with the permission of the author.


Chris McCabe's latest collection of poetry is Zeppelins (published by Salt), which this poem is taken from. There's more by and about Chris McCabe on Gists and Piths.

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