Looping the Loop

Mark Ford

Anything can be forgotten, become regular
As newspapers hurled in a spinning are to land
With a thump on the porch where Grandma sits
And knits, her hound dog yawning at her feet.

And other strangled details will emerge and prove
Suddenly potent to confound the wary-footed, and even
The assembled members of the panel; in turn
Each pundit speaks, yanks from the hat an angry rabbit who flops

In spurts around the circular paths of crazy paving.
No pressing need to watch them but you do.

                    *

Dirty fingernails in August, and just
The amount of lightning threatened; superb
Courtiers sweep through the various precincts
Fingering each other’s beads in the jagged dusk.

I myself went and left like a moron, but heard
The rumours nevertheless – meanwhile the wind
Pounds this shack with wilful abandon, then enquires,
As it eases, just exactly how many spliffs there were

Stashed that night in the cicada-coloured
Pencil case tucked in the side pocket of her satchel.

                    *

Harsh truths indeed! I act the part of my own
Nemesis, polite, dazed, addicted to adversity,
Frequently drunk. Overhead the wires hum
Obscure ultimatums, mutterings that threaten

To aggravate forever these ordinary feelings, and inflict
Upon the world quantities of crazily-worded postcards
Sent off on impulse from decaying seaside towns. For I still
Love the tang of brine, the old women hurtling on motorbikes

Through swirling banks of fog, any who loiter
Resentfully about the war memorial on summer afternoons.

                    *

Eventually one hears the cuckoo’s call, while friends
Recline in armchairs. Let’s off then, backwards through
The fish-eye lens, bone by bone, clean shirts
Soon streaked and torn. Some fought like lovers

Under the bluish lights that swayed so weirdly
On their stanchions of pale, unpainted metal: how
Suddenly the team began to perform as if a stranger
Watched and cared, blindly probing through the endless rain

For openings, reeling back aghast, bitterly dispersed
One dank October, the sediment settling as best it might.

                    *

Afloat on the flood, indifferent to the cries
And the silence, I imprison your wandering hand:
In it lurk anecdote and polemic entwined, scars
Faint as a plate’s, the luck of the stars ...

Yet the affect hardly emerges, peers forth
Like a strayed mole through a cliff-crevice
On the unfamiliar scene; though I have leapt and held
And carried, grimaced sourly at the brimming heavens,

A few feints and the incident spirals
Beyond reach, turns turtle in dreams forgot before morning.