I wish

Mark Ford

you would please spare me your Western logocentrism!
Isn’t it clear I’m the sort who rejoices when the Queen Mother
chokes on a fish-bone? I’d shine a harsh,
piercing light on the damage indiscriminately wrought
by the tinkling music of the spheres. Our errands merely seem
average and natural: every second is underwritten
by an invisible host of dubious connections; like phantoms
they flit and soar, then render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

Others – I am not the first – have found themselves standing
on a seemingly solid patch of cliff that suddenly
starts to slide: as the knees tense and the hips swivel, the winding
path is transformed into a slalom. Through a blizzard of loam
and pebbles, oaths and jests, I tumbled towards the proverbially
treacherous soft landing. A flock of seagulls squawked
and fled, and I remembered a man who claimed he could speak
their language fluently: ‘Screeek!’ he’d wail, ‘Screeek, screeek!’

As any newsagent will explain, it is only, alas,
when their businesses collapse en masse that they
themselves are the news. The public-spirited tear
open the serrated pages in search of names
long wreathed in puzzling, clinging mists, now ablaze
with fame. The print smudges the fingers. Streams
of disjointed syllables cleave the air, and threaten
the passer-by who passes by, wrathfully, without flinching.