Dead, according to whose yardstick? Beneath stones
the breathless majority have their mouths stuffed
with the idea of pancake, which is heaven. A minority
face the hammer as nails in the atheist posterior.
A few are goats. No sense in requiring quick decisions,
postmodern juries are always hung. The morning DJ
intellectualises the afterlife as a teenage bedroom with free
broadband, a paradise island of phantom links.
To him everything is such a laugh, except those
who won’t laugh, the intolerably alive. The dead snigger
from their frontline linoleum. The dead live as miis
in Wiis, fork holes in ready-meal films, lay chocolate eggs.
Jacket and sleeve conceding little to age
the Children’s Bible leaned,
imperious and barely skimmed, against
A Couch Potato’s Guide to Jive,
dance and religion propping one another up
against the urge to celebrate
self-expression over art; dust covered shelves,
the books untouched for years
like ancient black & white sets
stockpiled in a basement for some future
millennium’s mad experiments
resembling outtakes from early Kraftwerk.
He is absent from the recollected scene
yet its tang of cinnamon and brine
burns the tongue.
To the left his absence
hauls in a monumental halibut,
jelly-boned and twisting
Behind where he must have been,
the airy cake
bobs like a yacht
sailing an idea of empty rooms
wide as the stanza of the sea
where the halibut twists from his hook
and swallows him and the cake
he is sure, in a fictive shutter’s click,
he had split between his guests.
“Sorry for my non-appearance
at the Ultra Silents gig –
you really still drum
after all those years? –
but the Nouveau Slump
falls on the wrong side of town.
Tonight I had to snore
through the BAFTA Awards
and guess what? My film
walked the Platinum Orb,
so I’m perky. How are you?
I so admire your lack of drive.”
Rob A. Mackenzie’s first full collection, The Opposite of Cabbage, was published by Salt in 2009. HappenStance Press published an earlier pamphlet collection, The Clown of Natural Sorrow, in 2005. He organises the ‘Poetry at the...’ reading series in Edinburgh, where he lives and works.
The Forward Prize; the Poetry Book Fair
6 days ago