Thursday, March 05, 2009


I ask: Brother, can you spare a dime, a decimal, a decade?
And they answer always: Patience, brother, patience.
WHAT AM I? A soldier king, a veteran of countless wars,
A panhandler, a speaker of the thieves' cant, a bum?

Farewell, my island kingdom. Farewell palatial baths.
I used up all the hot water. The link that I followed
Was invalid or incomplete. My accounts were deactivated.
The laurels of my many victories were but a spice

To season that great soup: the world's ocean. I alone
have survived to mourn the loss of a fleet. From the wreckage
Of comradeship I swam, away from journeys brave and poetic,
And came here, to the Fastland, where the gods do not exist.

Perhaps I survived because I was never here to begin with.
The fear of death is the fear of my own skeleton. Pain
Is the fear of my own blood. Ghosts are scared of music,
As everyone knows, and the gods do not exist here.

And what of the Fastlanders? They take their coffee with milk
And the memory of heartbreak: I was doing fine, you see,
Before the metallic banging started. There were voices
Outside the door, voices I didn't recognise, but I knew

They had to be bastards. I tried to go back to sleep,
But they were in the room with me, tearing at my arms,
Pulling me upright. I tried to make my body heavy to discourage them, but
they had me up on my feet and I was being walked down a carpeted corridor

By two guys in cheap uniforms. They looked too young to be coppers. You could tell it was hard work, the poor bastards cursing me in some foreign language. They had to drag me up a flight of stairs and down another corridor, and I didn't make it easy for them. I could see I was on some kind of a ship, and it freaked me out. Why are you putting me on a ship, I asked. We're not, one of them answered, we're trying to get you off. Alright thanks, I said, and after a while I stopped resisting. The two stewards (they were stewards) led me to the exit ramp and handed me my tax free bag. It felt too heavy. As I started into the walkway there were black people coming the other direction, pushing little carts with mops and buckets on them. Would you mind telling me please where the fuck I am, I called out as they passed me, but the bastards wouldn't answer. This whole being on a ship business was very unexpected. The last thing I remembered, I saw myself drinking Sapporo beer in some Japanese themed place in Newcastle, pretending to have a crush on the nice redhead behind the bar to give myself an excuse. Before that was the bus ride and feeling like an eight-year-old. Further back I saw myself coming finally through the gate, a day I'd dreamt of seeing, and behind the gate, going back two and a half years in time, I saw myself immersed in the routine and sobriety of Her Majesty’s Prison Acklington. I upped the pace as I rummaged through my pockets for cigarettes, following the exit signs down a flight of stairs and into a small lobby. Going through the tax free bag I found an open carton of Pall Malls, thank Jesus, and an empty plastic bottle of Upper Ten. There was a a bundle of clothes in there too, shirt, t-shirt, a pair of socks, something rolled up in a pair of olive boxer shorts. I unrolled it and saw, holy shit, it was an automatic pistol, just as I was being

Waved over by a customs officer. Anything to declare? No nothing. I held
Out the empty bottle of whiskey and shook it, grimacing with mock pathos.
He waved me through. Excuse me, I asked, would you mind
Telling me where I am? Yes, said the customs officer,

I would. All cities in the world are built to stay
In one place, come war or dragons, even until the day
They are ruined, burned, abandoned, or swallowed by the sea.
They sit like acquisitive shopkeepers on every coastline

Of every continent, they straddle every river and crossroad
And mountain pass, taking a bite out of every apple
That passes through their gates. There are cities on islands
Far at sea, and cities hidden deep in the green jungles

And white deserts of the east, and all these cities,
Rich or poor, are built to stay in one place. But you are not
In any of those cities now, for you have come to the Fastland,
And we all know why. Yes, I said. I am come to blind the cyclops.


Anonymous WhoDoIKnowFromPoland said...

anyway, do you still collect your navel fluff?

12:39 pm  
Blogger Mikkel said...

No. I've taken up belly shaving to avoid that dreadful substance altogether.

1:01 pm  

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