Alan Morrison

O The Windows of the Bookshop Must Be Broken
For David Kessel

Is that the Cockney poet who sings splintered cities
Sat, a damp jackdaw, on a bench-perch there,
Succouring a spindly, smoking twig? Licked
Rhetoric: I recognised him at first sight;
Or myself through the gulled glass of a parallel life —
So this was what obscure compassion looked like:

Moony, two-way mirror eyes, fogged with thought,
Reflecting ghosted furniture of the room
And the wall shadows; the soul of the muttering door;
Obscurities crimped in schizophrenic things:
Animist glimpses of the chronically nerved —
Channelled through sentiment projected in objects;
Tangible triggers re-shaping blanched traumas.

Face: sallow, sunless, the shade of curdled tea,
Faintly lit with sincerity's buttercup shadow glow;
Flashes of a harassed child — Little Time grown up
In hand-down, tight, untranslatable insights —
A sheep-eyed Leopold Bloom in itching hair-shirt;
The conscientious misanthrope every city needs;
The ghostly conscience stalking visceral streets;
Dreaming giro stories to capsize pickled lives;
Tapping Socialism trapped in bricked-up histories
Of peeling terraces — a lust corrosive as spit
Rusting the tongue that would taste the world
But for the hampering of pill-slugged speech.

Do you see yourself as a survivor? I ask in another voice —
Me? I suppose I am . . . surviving, he stammers
Adding, as an afterthought, often left just that:
I'm chronic! More emphatic than a big, black, monstrous,
Insurmountable full stop: I am chronic.

O but a light shines undimmed in his dark eyes!
O his Captains cluster in his dampened spirit:
Saints with cluttered brows: Noonan, Keir Hardie
Ghosting his sunless skin; shivering inspiration;
Obscurity can't trample down the Muse-struck tramp,
He tramples on to saddle-stitched skies.
It’s true thoughts' Pillar'd Mansions shrink on paper —
But the gamble's to be published and be damned,
Better the salvation of the page —
The printed line forfeit for public interpretation —
Time to rise up Proletariat — once you have woken
Reclaim The Means of Publication
From the inky paws of milk-float laureates —
O the windows of the bookshop must be broken!