May ’15 EP
Through Vicarage Avenue
Rain knocks the pollen from its packets
and my eyes doggy paddle. Ne’er-do-well daisies
pitch through turf, inch-high questers.
Friday, and which of many boons shall I invoke?
To watch this woman in front of me, slender
of neck, her back tattooed with Mercator’s folly.
Wrong world. But I am Standard now, not Village.
I swim to the wrong world, past the icky church
where squealers go to ease their jerky ills.
Slow spree of teatime. My average height,
my average weight squat awkward on the day,
pitched between the rose and violet truffle
of content and the psoriasis of all quotidian. Through.
Wrong. Pitch. Brand names of self-bloom. Grey Day.
The Standard lights are dimmed. No one I know.
Not a metaphor and let’s not cheapen this
by saying memory. Not that, but a reservoir
where once we let a hedgehog go, belting
into the ferns. I had a Scottish education.
Back when that meant. Here is my grammar,
my topographical purity. My ‘test your strength’
machine flashing in your pow’s fairground.
The hammer yours to grab, pinhead, sparrow.
Cameron: flat, bonnie and bosky, mid-Kingdom.
Barely a village. Reservoir surface at equal
depth from near sight to farthest. A jerkin
pulled round my stocky boyhood; sandshoes.
I do not doubt the present. Infectious, yes,
in all its senses. Here is my frown, beneath
my crown of authority. I am indeed someone.
But let go. Pin-eyed, through these ferns.
Yet someone is in charge of me. Oh hell.
Shall we go for a run in the car, says Dad.
It was barely a village and now I look it up.
It does not exist. I type my name, but pause.
The vatic thermometer drops. I may not either.
At The Standard
I cried all morning, said Francesca.
It’s bad, I said. It’s bad, came her echo.
Wrong world. A pint of Becks please,
this to the barmaid, and a cure for hay fever.
Get pregnant, she says. It works. Wrong
crawls all over the menu here. Spoilt
when our wallet spills. Once, we had
powsowdie, then microwaved macaroni.
Now our buns are glazed, omega seeds
are scattered. Make the profiteroles large
to share. That polecat rubs his mitts
in number ten. There is summer slaw,
kale pesto. Everything comes smothered.
Skin-on. Quinoa rules this establishment.
Standard. Sourdough, stout-cured, heritage.
I picture Cameron, ginger ale ketchup
infecting the razored gant where his chin
might have developed. I’ve heard of it,
is the most he can offer on disbelief.
Deep in the caliphate, knives are whetted.
America boils on borrowed gas. Baby gem
sounds tasty, but I long back sussed
that life is largely lies swanked up
and fed to you cold. Dearie me, fuck this.
Roddy Lumsden has published nine collections. His latest book is Not All Honey (Bloodaxe, 2014). He teaches for the Poetry School.