Here comes the skiversí song, again.
The tuneís a long-lived so and so.
it travels fast from brain to brain
and sets a story on the go:
the quasi-sick. Day in, day out.
The rhetoric clings like mistletoe:
alm-swallower and layabout.
On it drones, wonít leave us be.
Itís long on hearsay, short on doubt.
One chord for a polyphony
of beings, past and present tense.
Research: the cadence booms at me
in scenes from plague-bedeviled France
Maimed beggars dash away from health –
a saintís gift of a missing sense –
in case work interferes with wealth.
The figures flee. Their ailmentís brief.
They force on me a shadow self
I do not want. Iím not a thief.
Like them Iím squint, (my private word,)
and still I live with this belief.
So while these ghosts are disinterred,
dissected, glossed, as light relief
once more the song is overheard
on last nightís bus. Sheís lost the source,
but she is quick. "Not you, of course".
Itís older than the begging bowl –
almost as difficult to thole.
Strong. Harder to withstand than pain,
here comes the skiversí song, again.
* * *
Do not eat, sleep, read, knit, text or do any work unrelated to invigilation.
I am a queen inside this room.
I must switch on the crescent moon
that blocks all sound; illegal beeps
will not occur if my phone sleeps.
I have practised this in prayer:
silence, silence, everywhere.
The hall is sealed. The papers lie
like pale-blue sphinxes. Iím a spy.
Independent actionís banned
so I have handkerchiefs on hand.
I must begin my solemn stalk.
I have to do the flying walk
that keeps me upright – both arms braced
like phoenix wings. Bang, clatter, clunk.
I am the monarch of my tea.
No happening can flummox me.
Still, desperate to be orthodox
I ask advice of seven clocks.
I cannot see the farthest row
so have to let transgressions go.
One row describes the love of God.
the other how a horse is shod.
They draw up plans to build degrees
whilst I am startled by a sneeze.
I must endeavour to be sage:
a despot on a basic wage.