The Third Policeman
I?m here. I?m at a Boat Show.
On my Walkman for my journey I had the following things:
T.S. Eliot reading his Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,
Gertrude Stein reading her Valentine for Sherwood Anderson,
Nick Drake singing River Man, various songs by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
And a fair few other things I can?t remember. And Princess Anne came
One day and I didn?t even notice her.
I?m here, I thought- the floating fuss and wealth
That people couldn?t hide- but what a question!
A question of wealth, a question of very bad health
(?the will is good?.my will is hardly here-
that should be clear as triple-filtered water in a glass bath.)
I cannot goggle then opine
The scrupulous self-censure is a concrete vice of mine?
A question of very bad health- as I have touched-
And very good blood
A flower-scented, penitential flood
Then the lyric lover comes and beats my temples.
A monumental Chatterji has come to vex my program
(?just let it flow man?)
The dead and the insouciant play horsey in one skin
(?and how should I begin??)
this fluttered out my earphones and addressed the DLR
this morning, and this evening I have Gertrude Stein on tape,
prepared to tell the carriage how very fine (and mine)
is her valentine.
A question of very bad luck also arises now and
Causes us to swerve, skid, fracture our shoddy frame?
Because, like, we?ve been so involved up to now?
And I think, sometimes, if I just observe
And don?t decline or define
This poem will be mine
Oh, ineluctably, and fit its title.
Objectively a list is not a list
But the special sentient grist
Of my meaning mill
Of me, ill,
All day I?ve been standing up too soon
Whilst sitting down.
None of this is much about boats.
But I don?t much like boats- not in buildings.
This has become I little elegiac for fettered inanimates.
Did I say about the DLR? My daily dawntime Kenneth Koch moment?
When, from a trackside 5th floor window he appears
In monkey mask with monkey ears
And asks me and the rest (the rest don?t know)
I, with simian sign language: gestural grunts, the vocal now a twitch,
I say ?he?s sleeping with women, Kenneth.?
I think she obviously failed abysmally.
The point (the only point?) of a princess, not a Diana,
Is to provide a mild flutter in proceeding.
A light pleasant splash in the quotidian.
A couple of extra-luminous Bobbies- albeit with subtle
And tastefully worn AKs- does not a Royal flush constitute.
Non-plussed (what is it to be plussed?) stallholders
Carry on their earnest form of low decibel hawking.
The generator spits petrol-smelling warmth for five minutes,
Then rests, and then lets rip again. And what the hell has any of this
Got to do with boats? I?ve seen No boatmen.
And- (how these refrains imprint when on a Walkman!)
Here?s no great matter.
(and how they morph!) Nor was it meant to be.
The slightly bald- thank god- is not an issue.
At least, right now.
And ?Rivermen??a new refrain?
The River Man-
the track listing?s been given- work it out
but Betty never came by, not to me.
Inside my tasteful, functional, buff kiosk
I get the dregs, the bottle men, the loons
(see how I switch my rhythms and my tunes!)
we?ve got five well-formed feet and even rhymes?.
There we go again and ruin it with an observation that it?s less
The vacancy than the latency of all this (Wharfside bar
I drink in now; recovering from more than is relevant to talk about)
That really paints it blue- not black,
That?s not another track
Not in the list, my list is strictly picked
From what I have at hand, from all the clutter
That carpets my small space that I?m not in now-
So far away! Sometimes to be avoided!
And now it hits me. Where has Kenneth gone?
He?s in the same place as she is- available
In many ways, just not available,
Like one not really adored. Let?s decide
that neither one of them are needed. Yes. Good.
And one more thing.
The monkey mask, it?s not a monkey mask it?s a
That?s only right, huh, Kenneth?
The ?almost manic attention to detail?
is something I should at least honour
enough to get that right.
Sometimes at night:
those times for me were early but were late
for you and couldn?t seem to dedicate
the singular and same attentive eye
on all the details under our shared sky.
Now I am all attention. I?m a gnome.
I?m battered down and shot by all the air,
The air and airs all crying, not in chorus,
Each with a special advertising voice
?look me!? ?look me!? ?look! me!? and it?s my choice
my giddy, dizzy-making (in)decision
to pay each one or one or two attention
and flip a little giddy-dizzy home
(a journey I?m avoiding, now alone-
and still I?m smaller, still I?m just this gnome.
Oh, what?s this angry braggadocio?
Kenneth would say ?get some fresh air?.