An off-white hotel bedroom in the pokey heat of summer: here is our old
calamitous melancholy, come to cull my love like a captured flag. I stand
near-naked in the cock-a-doodle moonlight, and pant like a Pekingese dog
for want of you.
This isn't longing. This is bleary need and I want like a dig in the ribs. So
come then, fool, come pebble-brained and walking your old warped kilter,
the coked-up cartoon rain dance of joyride, ceilidh, clubland. Come boy,
whose thirst was a fortress, fool boy I couldn't reach; soft boy who trembled
his hemlock alone. Come sick, in a rank lacquer of sweat, laid out cold on
a camp bed, baste in the pale grease of a pickled trotter. Fucked or clucking.
Come, in any way you please: courting your diffident misery like a grounded
schoolboy, or pumpkin-grinned, as a quenched mess of soppy love, a hot rock
wedged in your frontal manger, rokkering under a hyacinth sky. Come from
the starry revile of a Belfast night, tread a threshed mile with the green reveal
of spring on your breath; come from baleful grace, your scorched corner, raids
and rummages, from forecourts and cafés, the red roofed safe house – safe as
houses – an everyday advent of open doors.
Come, because I cannot sleep. I fix grit-coffee, watch the news: riots, obesities,
the ingrown godless poor who are always with us. Come, because I want a drink
and wonder how we got here. All of us, with our pacts and our remorses; our
tantrums and our art. I keep it together, recalibrate all of my cascade cravings,
doubling down. And I want to tear out my hair at the roots. I see you, jinxed
and drowned and everywhere, lost in your dumb recreational carry-on. I see you
everywhere, you might as well come.
Ten days dead and you are mine alone, don't you know that? Ireland has her
martyrs, generals, gone prophets; has fools enough in giddy, workshy plenitude.
Boy, whose thirst was a hair shirt, who could not cling or scratch at peace, and is
not needed. You belong to me, just me, just come, with olive branches, smoking
roses; pale hands built for trade or menace. Come spitting, and drilled to your
diamond insides. Come. The skimping, sooted, sotted North wants washing too.
She can't clean up come clean without you.
The pokey heat of summer, and all day long I looked for God, but God
was stubbornly curbing his alchemies. There was only the ordinary: all
that sorry shit we muse and strive on. I walked all day. I thought the city
would give you up, but no. The city is chemical torment and blatant
absurdity; the same arrogant scrabble as always. The city is girding her loins
in siege mentality, fracas, spate, and Catholic frenzy. You did not return.
I've prayed, you know, have given out with: oh, you placid canon
saints, what can you tell me of pain? I have prayed, gone over
and over the pallid ablutions of my faith. I have whinnied to you,
flashy and bloodsome boy, to the fucking I loved like an arcade game –
such lights and sighs –. It does no good. You are not summoned
and nothing has changed. I jaywalk my penance of pacing, gesture
at traffic, bawl and scorn.
An off-white hotel bedroom, where I turn the TV on. There are
rumours, as usual, there are starlings and tirades; there is light on
the backs of my hands, public transport, strikes, insomnia. There
is hectoring and skirmish, an implausible poem or two.
Come home, before the trump tornado of my loss has done me in,
has sent me wailing, pin-wheeling. Come, or I will have to agree
with these pills that you are gone, will gild your ghost in empty
rooms no more. This, I will not accept, I cannot say. We were
magicians once. I grind my teeth, and chalk the floor. I’m wearing
red, and green. I will leave the window open, mulo. I will preen
my oily grief like feathers.
Dr Fran Lock is a some-time itinerant dog whisperer, the author of seven poetry collections and of numerous chapbooks, most recently Contains Mild Peril (Out-Spoken Press, 2019). Fran has recently completed her Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, University of London, titled, "Impossible Telling and the Epistolary Form: Contemporary Poetry, Mourning and Trauma". She is an Associate Editor at Culture Matters.