Still There is Beauty, Beauty in the Shit – David Hay
December 15, 2021
On the edge of the asylum
Take his ticket – his little book of poems
His teeth are a fine cut
Snap them out one by one
Money can always be made from misery.
Tell the tooth fairy she’s going out of business,
That will teach him to believe in beneficent powers.
Rows of bald men in suits of meat nod.
They are steadily crusting over with disbelief.
Let us crouch in the corner of his youthful ear
And whisper our dirty tales,
Our sordid ditties of mental illness and extramarital affairs
By the cadences of the snake’s bodily violence.
Dreams should be harboured by no child.
There is nowhere to hide from the cynics’ sour breath.
Mark his tongue, that flapping flesh of syntax-
The great conductor of ego and inaccuracies
Uttered by each idiot – is sprouting,
Wart –like with madness.
Let it swallow silence
Let it swallow the memories of each year
Let is speak of the future no more,
Let it remain unsatisfied by gin and chocolate cake.
He doesn’t know that there is no substitute for a mother’s love.
Laughable but ultimately tragic.
Awkward stares at patent leather shoes
Everyone starts and ends the same.
The mirror is an eternal reminder
Of the seasons incessant cycle.
I have examined his hands
They are not moulded by hard labour,
The veins, his veins should I say,
Are no tributaries transporting the earth’s essence
His are merely wisp of witches’ hair
Flowing into the clear sky.
Why is he so scared? The bed is only the tomb for the old.
He has a lifetime of this shit left.
He will never recover the hours he has lost.
Still there is beauty, beauty in the shit.
But not much. Sometimes not just enough.
Nothing like a good nightmare to start the day
A continuous porridge of thought
Clogs up desire,
It Lumps up to the boarders of the skull –
Too much milk and another argument
Makes violence a necessity.
I ask a tree how to breathe,
How to inhale poisons and spew out dreams,
But childish queries are treated as blankly
As my first words.
Bird of green evening
Flies through the traffic-light madness
Swallowing grief like air.
You are a visionary winged emissary
As genderless as dew;
Your black cries choke the church bells
That mark the hours,
Falling into your unblinking stare
That birthed the colour of tears.
Your memories are as
Wombless as shadows,
They are as deep as the
Synthetic ocean of noise
Perforating eardrums, spines,
And my friend’s cancerous hump,
Slowly ballooning him to heaven.
You navigate our town of rugby league,
Above nightclubs of ash-filled laughs,
Above grey waves of stationary steel,
As we drive below in our
Rusting car of held light
Circling the many hearts of our home,
Silent as atoms.
You are carried by wind,
By strangers breath,
By bureaucratic sighs,
As babies and the homeless,
Vomit their cinders of sadness
Across the empty blue blanket of spring.
The distance between us
Is momentarily softened by
Your green song,
Smelling of damp peaches.
I inhale it,
Take a deep long drag
And hold your song
Of decomposing leaves, of waves
Of the gutter’s sludge,
In the base of my throat
Until I break
And I can no longer breathe;
For you will soon be gone
And I have no words to match your music.
I’m sorry they broke me, and there are no flowers for your grave. But I brought some toothpaste and a toothbrush and my large madman’s grin– doesn’t that make you proud? No? Dirt inhabits my nails but I’m not the same as the oak, or even a small shrub. I cannot sense my prey from a distance. Yes father, I have entered the parted legs of a woman but my children are as useless and landless as me.
Your bones are now artefacts– they are calcium-covered history. However, how can you be dead when I hold your memories like a child? I brought you your favourite whisky. Here is a swig– the worms will be drunk; they may be kind and spare your eyes.
Oh father I’m bored of being a man. There is nothing to a man anymore– only a mirage without a desert, a plane without the womb of a horizon. You gave your years to the earth and so you return. But I– I don’t even have dreams– of a cabin and a gas stove – a woman of iron and clouds and a seat by the lake with an evening of stars: the flowers in dark-webbed forest of night. Nothing makes sense anymore, and I will never escape these turnstile blues.
I read a poem today (big shock). You would be proud or you’d at least smile. It was beautiful. The world revealed its hidden patterns to me, but it made no difference. I don’t have your eyes father, I have mother’s.
I feel done father and I’m afraid, afraid of the amount of life that still awaits me, and I visit you each Sunday and I don’t know why; to escape life without dying perhaps? To tread on the precipice of those swollen shores containing people older than the terraced houses built after the bombs fell and Hitler lost his moustache? Fuck it; I’m a coward just like you. Eat your worms father, they are good for you.
The nights are full of broken sky sirens– of 2,000 stabbings and sexless promises– of hot dog food-banks, and either coffee or tea or pasta or rice. Do you have a cooker or a microwave sir? No, I sold it in that withering despair of rainy Tuesday mornings and late for job centre appointments. So tell me the future is golden, tell me my friend lives…I’m sorry I raised my voice, but how can I keep living with a smile when the town is brimming beige and stinks
of takeaways, tin and ash?
I know I should apologise but where is my place? Can you tell me? Can you lead the way? And yes homogenous bald security man with your lurid Friday night tales and whispers of he got fucked up I know where the food bank is; I despise it as much as myself. But did you know that your voice has no colour? No? I can tell I’m bringing you down, I will see you in a week, but we will not greet each other as equals. I will sit and read your jobless magazines and be quiet and await my name.
But you– you with the jobless stare– we share the same hollow smile. Do you carry grief like a dead child? Good. Your silence is a confirmation. We will leave together, to seek fresh air and know the stench of broken men and dead things. But you know as well as I, it isn’t that, that breaks and so I’m continually drawn back to suicide like a child to the womb– to commit that ultimate distinction, to answer every question with an unfathomable silence. To cut the cord that made me whole. I think of it more than is acceptable– it’s the thought in the thoughts: they go as they please. But I’m a man not a seed, I’m not made of wind, of currents, of dead leaves– please I have my bones, my day saver, my Smiths’ CDs.
But what is a man I ask you, but a ghost haunting nameless streets, silent as the horizon, full of lightning and thorns? What is a man to do when the lips of oblivion are more appealing than a lover’s touch and you have only a dreg of hope and your parachute’s been nicked– and for company you have pigeons and the moon and the fast approaching earth as you fall through the atmospheres of thirsts and Friday nights with drink but no relief?
We all know death is the end of life, but it still hurts, that no one thought it meant anything,
or mustn’t have to look upon this world. There is no need for manners. Stop you clichés.
We are both grief-drunk as each other and our shoulders are covered in dandruff; there is only money that separates us– and there are only shorter spaces in eternity. The world is opened up through the dirt in our fingernails, not literary dinner gatherings with ornate words and tears, but the earth of brotherhood– of dark organ symphonies that make us roll up our sleeves and dig as if we were burying our fathers as deep as our unholy worship can stretch.
I’m sick my friend, sick of a new disease– sick of fighting birds at night and knowing that my father with his preacher’s smile let them in– and that my boyhood is worth nothing more than saliva in a teenage lover’s kiss. I keep losing my father’s face in the crowd and I miss our phone calls– where he passed me onto mother as quick as possible– and the smell of potatoes in his beard and how he smashed his life out in his study after mum’s comments came as innocent as hurricanes, and he became the child he was never allowed to be.
Now in the present, with a full face of the northern wind smelling winter mornings down Warrington’s sleeves, I am as much a stranger to my suit as my wife and the apple tree my father planted when I was five was crucified by lightning and mother laughed so much she almost cried.
I leave the Jobcentre with you– a man voiceless, under the unrelenting weight of hours.
We walk directionless, through these homeless streets like the collarless dogs we are, before we feel only the fabrics separating our bodies– and know the silence before god finally woke up. We know this sincerity is too much for the modern hour and when you leave all I have for contentment are words and words, good lord tell them to behave themselves and leave me the fuck alone.