THE CITY WALL
Often have I walked
Along this filthy wall
Impaled with posted lies
This high, cold city wall
Whose soul is cinder-blocked
Whose heart is filled with gall
Reflected in the eyes
Of those who cringe and crawl
And nothing's ever changed
The narrow, cramped confines
Of my misbegotten life
Still waiting for a sign
I've spent my life estranged
My pleasures of a kind
Acquired at a price
From those who sell their time
And they who gave their love
Would never give their name
Requiring in return
That I should do the same
All my futile dreams
Have never come to pass
No danger, no extremes
No rainbow's end, no happiness
No hope, no success
Yet I know that somewhere far beyond the wall is a world
A world where children laugh and call
Where lovers stroll beneath the trees
And flowers beckon in the breeze
Far beyond the wall
The jewelled kites are flying high
And the deepest blue
Is waiting in a cloudless sky
The waves are dancing
The sun entrancing
Seagulls are crying
Sailboats are flying
Our fingers reaching
Then hands entwining
Your eyes are shining
Such bitter sweetness
I never have escaped
These sterile city streets
The summer sun has bled
Its life out on the concrete
There must be some mistake
These people lost at sea
Move blindly straight ahead
In search of some relief
I let myself be led
And trying not to fall
I join the living dead
And walk along the high cold city wall
The dawn this morning penetrated
Through my windows and elated me
Who never thought to wait
For such an unexpected gift.
The sky was just a bit less grey
And then a confidential ray
Of sunlight fell on my bouquet
Of plastic flowers like a kiss.
It shone upon my few possessions,
On my failures, on my passions
And exposed without compassion
The self-hate I can't resist.
But maybe hate is in the past
For hope has come to me at last
To let me dare remove my mask,
Doff my mask, no more mask.
I want to change my point of view
I want to start my life anew
And brave the world without my mask.
But I had barely stepped outside
When I felt the enemy hiding there
Behind the scenes they spied
On me and dogged my every move.
And every surreptitious glance
Cuts through my heart just like a lance
And I can never stand a chance
Of ever making them approve.
You whose eyes fill me with fear
Please accept me as I am.
You who ridicule and jeer,
Who consign me to the damned,
Your indifference is plain
But I'm flesh and blood like you.
We're not different - we're the same
And I need affection too.
You who talk of charity
Spew your filth all over me.
Your abuse falls thick and fast
Making me regret my mask.
Quick a mask, a mask, my mask.
You tried to hunt me down like prey,
You tried to make me turn at bay,
But still you couldn't keep away
The love I felt deep in my bones.
And so in spite of your contempt,
I shall endure a last attempt
To reach the one that heaven sent
So I would never be alone.
Yet just the minute I laid eyes
Upon my love I realised
The same mask that I wore disguised
The face I longed to call my own.
Goodbye to courtship's lovely dance,
The plague had won. We lost our chance.
Our skin was welded to our masks
To our masks, our masks.
We would have loved to run and throw
Ourselves into each other's soul,
To strip defenceless, to console,
To seize our hearts, to seize our hips.
But our fears barricade us still
For when we try to speak at will
Our words are masked and set to kill
"I love you" trembling on our lips.
So once again we don't intrude,
We don't dare leave our solitude.
And separately we spend our strength
To keep each other at arms length.
Indifferent and unattached,
Two strangers locked behind our masks
SO THEN I SAT DOWN (no 1)
So then I sat down upon this low wooden chair
And looked around myself at this small room
I thought I could recognise.
And yet which today seems suddenly foreign
Suddenly strange, Vaguely hostile
As though once upon another day, yesterday
There one day something occurred which did not concern me
But which would one day, tomorrow
Later change my whole life
Upsetting my destiny by tangling up its strings
Until then so smooth so reasonably strung between my memories
My aspirations, and my goals, between oblivion and fear
Between true love and true love lost
Just like one of those old-fashioned curses
That used to make me laugh
When it would happen at the perfect time to add a bit of mystery
To the trite intrigue of one of those horror films that I loved
But never would I have thought that one of them would be
Or could be suddenly so tangibly right here in this room
Where nothing, nothing can nothing must ever be achieved
And where nonetheless I believed I could perceive the crab
A medallion on the carpet,
Chandelier, hanging right over my head and just about to fall
And then something indescribable walking silently
The way some lunatic would
Along my walls, my four grey walls.
"Wait and see, I will make your dreams come true",
That is what you said to me
And you even said, "I love you".
You carried into my heart and my bed
All the frightening fantasies
Of the poems locked in my head.
Oh, my dear,
How you've made me change my ways,
Taught new words and dried my tears,
Brought new colours to my days.
Now, my dear, It's my turn to be amazed,
I will sing all day, cast aside the grey,
Promise you "always".
Was a heavy cross to bear,
Suicide a tempting door
To escape a frozen nightmare.
Now you're here
Nothing matters anymore.
All the cold has disappeared
You healed my fear... my fear... my fear
You aren't afraid of hell
You cast a magic spell,
You have such tales to tell,
When I'm with you all is well.
You laugh at my certitude,
Brighten my every mood,
Shake up my solitude,
My eternal lassitude.
The books that I might have read,
Words that I might have said,
Paths that I might have tread,
With you are now all ahead
You set my whole life aflame,
You put the sun to shame,
You made me break my chains,
With you nothing is the same... the same... the same... the same.
You cut short .
All my growing liberty
And inflicted the same sort
On my new-born sense of beauty.
You bound me in a web of cruel deceit,
Holding out the blasphemy
Of promises you could not keep
Constantly questioning your love,
Constantly spying to reveal
The stronghold where you guard your secrets
Means I cannot breathe.
The air is thickening above,
The atmosphere's become congealed
And, suffocating, I am weakened.
Reason as I may, try as I might to remain calm,
To find completely commonplace
All of the evidence around you,
Much to my dismay I still keep watch despite my qualms,
Searching for weakness, for disgrace,
Listening to everyone who doubts you,
Even the wind whispers about you.
In this new film, what do you see
That's so unique compared to me?
And that new scarf I watch you tie,
Is it more rare than you and I?
Tell me now, you know that I can comprehend.
Tell me things I am afraid to apprehend.
Tell me please, you know that I can understand.
No, don't look back, you mustn't know.
I look grotesque following like your shadow.
With such predictable pretence,
With all that should remain unsaid
When someone truly loves completely.
I should have known one day
You would be ready to dispense
With all my scars that made you shed
The tears that once you wept so sweetly.
It's true, some complaints
Should be contended with alone,
Without requiring your help,
For only bastards beg assistance.
So with no restraint
Continue calling me a clown,
Continue living for yourself
And I will smile without resistance;
I know our love has no existence.
No, none of this is new to me,
I've read about it endlessly.
Our story isn't rare at all
Now that the thrill begins to pall.
Take my word, I've seen it countless times before
Too banal and trite and guaranteed to bore
Like a fairytale that pledges evermore
If I were you, I would beware
This man unhappy with his share
Who kneels before you in the dust
While foolishly repeating us... us... us... us.
You whose slow breathing moves your breast to rise and fall
You who sleeps sweetly deep within your peaceful room
Why can't you sense, beneath the paper on the wall
Forgotten faces of assassins darkly brood?
On the old newspaper wedged in the window frame
Lining the closet shelves and in the fireplace
Lighting the fire that will swallow up their names
Aren't you afraid to catch a glimpse of Weidmann's face?
Can't you tell from the creases in their sharp pressed suits
There's much more to these killers than the stories tell
When the police were running hotly in pursuit
Those kings of thieves knew how to hide their tracks too well.
For their eyes were much too soft
And their wavy hair was oiled slick
Their fedoras were brushed off
And their pinkie rings were too big
They kept order on the streets
Judgement was quick and efficient
Illustrating the mob scene
For the new special edition
They could always quite outrage
Journalists who loved sensation
And who wrote on the front page
Of psychotic deviation.
I who never could stomach
So-called honest people like them
Find criminals poetic
I prefer someone like Weidmann
Like Jean Genet dreaming within his prison cell
I also cut out Weidman's blue jawed baby face
Stifling my sobs, I can imagine all too well
To think the exploits of this warrior once took place.
Beside the stage door, I am waiting in his car
To greet the nude dancer he's chosen for the night.
I'll follow on the trail of his pallid silk scarf
From the bar to the villa, keeping them in sight.
The dawn breaks on a bleak abandoned city lot
The only traces of the dancer to be found
Are shreds of flesh, which somehow seem to have been caught
In shreds of ladder-proof black stockings on the ground.
But the velvet eyed monster
Isn't there to be discovered
And the very best rumours
Cannot help betray his cover
There he is near the water
By a fishermen's market
Is he there throwing flowers
To the late dearly departed
Or has he returned back to
His beloved old mother?
Waiting patiently for him
To come and tell her that he loves her
He was always a good boy
According to the neighbours
Mother's little pride and joy
Always willing to do favours.
A note is missing to make my story complete
It's just as well, this way I don't have to believe
This wildcat ends up in the hands of the police
Confessing in exchange for sandwiches and tea
I will not tremble like those upper-class ladies
Whose blond permanent waves stand suddenly on end
When on the evening news they can't believe they see
The enterprising dancer of their latest one-night stand
If I could only have a seat by the window
That overlooks the shady Execution Square
To greet the evil hour when pink just barely shows
The hour of final cigarettes and final prayers
Then his eyes that were too soft
Suddenly are filled with terror
See the blade waiting aloft
Pitiless, his neck is severed
It's the hour when most men
Taking their leave of the party
Sure that justice has been done
Are self-satisfied and hearty
It's the hour when someone
Bravely daring all the guards would
In ecstatic necrophilia
Dip his handkerchief in the blood
It's the hour I let go
Give in to my feverish daydreams
And admit that my hero
Is named Weidmann, Eugene
Just a cry in the night,
In the dark, in the light.
No, it's nothing, nothing, nothing.
It's just a scream.
It's just a sign of violence.
It's nothing but a scream
That comes to break the silence.
The locomotive train
Is screeching on the track,
The screaming cat in heat
Is scratching at the back.
The grass you trod on shrieks,
The rose you pluck is crying,
Beneath your careless feet,
A microcosm is dying.
No one or almost.
It's a man, or a ghost.
It's no one. Almost nothing, nothing, nothing.
It's just a mother's cry
Surrounded by her children.
She sees her man struck down,
His body clubbed and beaten.
A sleeping tiger roars.
His dreams are full of rage.
He challenges the night
Awaking in his cage.
A woman old and shrill,
Bewails her inattention
When muggers on her trail
Attack and steal her pension.
The girl in broad daylight
Who runs out shouting, ",'Rape!"
Collapsing in the street
Obscene and full of hate.
The crowds who scream with joy,
They laugh and they applaud
To see the fireworks
Above the esplanade.
And then the naked fright
Of they who cower sobbing.
They raise their arms in prayer
But can't escape the bombing.
Close your eyes, close your ears,
Don't reply, just play dead
And do nothing, nothing, nothing
Your reason starts to moan.
You give in to the madness.
So let the children sob
In fear of death and darkness.
Don't listen to the cries,
The screams of tortured flesh
Or to the souls that rush
Headlong toward the abyss.
In slaughterhouses, screams,
Where blood flows unabated
Or where an entire race
Was once exterminated.
The cries of the insane
Trapped in their private bedlam
The scream of mortal wounds,
The cry within the bedroom.
The bleat of innocence
When naked skin is thrashed
Or that of the corrupt
Writhing beneath the lash.
The counterfeited cries
Of a whore at her trade
And the forsaken cry
A dying Jesus made.
A virgin monk's despair
His faith abruptly failing
Who begs and curses God,
His cries are unavailing.
A prisoner cries out
As he's ejaculating
On names carved on the wall
Beneath a sordid grating.
The cry of impotence,
The cry of mental anguish,
The cry of melody
In a musician's language.
The scream of Edward Munch,
His pain immortalised
Beneath the swirling skies
The seeker's victory cry
Drowned by the roaring waves
On finding peace at last
Within a watery grave.
And I, my precious love,
I watch your spreading blood
The knife here in my hand,
And scream, "I don't understand, I don't understand"
I can recall a time before the age of tears
A time when nights were short and banquets went all day
A time like a garden
A time like a bouquet
As I would hold a flower, so I held you near
You would complain that flowers wilted in this place
So cut off from their roots, they'd only go to waste
Then you would say 'forgive me'
I would laughingly foresee our future bright within our cut-glass vase.
Back at that time I would have loved to be a poet
And like Appolinaire sing to your lilac eyes
But how the time was short as it went flying by
I loved you that was all and never thought to show it
I didn't beg the muse to bring me poetry
I didn't count my fingers or polish the rhyme
I loved you nothing else it isn't such a crime
The poem of your body was enough for me
It was before the age of tears
It was a time when flowers were mine.
The flowers on your bedside table slowly fade
On your way to oblivion, you are fading too
I only want to lie a moment here with you
As I compose a canticle that's most profane.
With the help of these flowers let me find the way
To sing of your dear body perfectly portrayed
First take the chrysanthemum
Burning like the anthem of your hair the colour of an autumn day
Then moving down the face that worry can't attain
Across your forehead to the thicket of your brow
Your Venus fly-trap eyes are hungry waiting now
To be compared to morning glories after rain.
No, rather talk of columbine, of flowering thyme
Of blues that turn to grey, of colours never dared
The morbid mauve of clematis is to be found there
Let me embrace the sad horizon through your eyes
The colour of before the age of tears,
A time when tears were kind.
Remember there within the creases of your ear
Preserving you from harm are sweet forget-me-nots
And when your anger takes control of all your thoughts
An iris petal pulses at your throat just here.
Those sudden fits of anger swept across your face
Just like a storm across the tossing fields would race
And then a peony would grow whose boiling blood would flow
When you bit your lip in a burst of rage.
You see I think of you and flowers just appear
There in your spreading blood a field of poppies grows
The reds of your body answer me like echoes
When I cry 'flowers' the word 'blood' is all I hear.
Red - the heart of narcissus that your stomach bears
Red is the golden fleece and red the peaceful glen
Red - the carnation which so bewitched Verlaine
Red is your sex, an endless red beyond compare
Passion has drowned in the age of regrets and tears
The age of tears.
I cut your life short as I would a flower stem.
Without a second thought, I stripped your branches bare
I drank the water, dried your flowers without care
As I behold your death my head begins to spin
This body that I loved - this flesh that tempts me still,
Will suffer prayers, procedures, and assorted ills
A bouquet on the rubbish heap
I find I'd rather keep to flowers made of taffeta and silk.
So give me lilies made of pearl or made of tin
Dead autumn leaves and plastic roses by the score
I must convince myself as I keep gathering more
That the language of flowers is no longer living.
There, there, don't worry. I'll be still. You mustn't smile
To hear my song as sad as a December day
It's more than time to throw these rotten flowers away
Then let me stay here in your room for just a while.
Count to ten, you're it,
Hide your head in your arms.
The playground at school
Has its own evil charms.
There's nothing to hopscotch
If you play it well.
You are set for heaven,
I am set for Hell.
Here alone in hiding,
With the ticking clock,
I can hear them downstairs
They're picking the lock.
Soon my wait is ended
Yet I am afraid.
Death has come here knocking
To take me away.
Summoned to the damned
SO THEN I SAT DOWN (no 2)
So then I sat down upon this bench black as night
And looked around myself at this strange place
I thought I could recognize
And yet which now, today seemed suddenly dear, familiar, close,
Almost friendly as though since time out of mind
Just like this I've been here-
Everything was predicted, decided, no doubt quite obvious
Here am I so lost and so alone
My fate sealed, my destiny arranged,
Disentangling the ties, suddenly so clear, so reasonably strung
Between my good intentions and all of my mistakes,
Between my life and your death
Between true love and true love lost
Just like one of those much too lucid deductions
That used to make me laugh
When it occurred at the perfect time to add a bit of logic
To a crime of passion in one of those murder films I so loved
But never would I have thought that such a scenario
Would suddenly resemble this one
This story happening here, our story
Just as grey and just as banal, and which, nonetheless
I believe I can remember
Framed an image, lovely, mysterious, inexplicable and yet decisive
This image: a wardrobe with open doors and more- a well-made bed
In a room so bright that both of them were lit
By a pair of simple perfect white sheets.
1. /High Wall.pdf
1. /Low Wall.pdf
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