It would be strange not to write a poem that in some way relates to the Olympics, but it was very hard to decide just what to write about. In the end, the thing that kept coming back was the whitewashing over of the real London the removal of eyesores and graffiti and all the things I love about the city, the way Londoners were hidden out of sight like the naughty schoolchildren on inspection day.
Fucking Juliette Binoche
I love taking part in poetry slams with the vibrancy of a succession of three minute performances under the scrutiny of audience judges. Competing at slams has developed strands to my poetry that would never be there without them. It’s very easy, though, to get all reflective and think of poetry as somehow “higher” or “deeper” than the electric experience of performing to a live crowd, and I wanted to write something that would remind me that all that depth and all those layers of meaning are actually more removed from the bare reality of being human as anything in a slam.
You should be at a poetry slam but you’re not.
You couldn’t face another night of polite smiles and 8.5s,
Drinking cider getting beaten by oneliners
From a guy who lacks a basic grip of irony
Who thinks misquoting Kerouac’s as hip as he aspires to be.
You’re in a Dean Street clip joint.
Outside neon rips the sky
Like screaming tears from every dream that travelled here to die.
A hostess who looks like Juliette Binoche demands a drink.
You say cognac and a hostess dressed like Lana Turner brings you whisky
And asks for fifty
When you only have a twenty.
Juliette says “that’s plenty, you can pay the rest with your hope”
And puts a notebook on the table,
Opens it, lights up and tokes and passes you her smoke,
Chokes on her whisky, strokes her wrists distractedly
And clicks her pen
And then you say
“I want to rhyme with holy fools
whose only rule of poetry is flow
where verse is free
And wordsmiths badder than the worst of me”
Behind the thickening membranes of her eyes the light retreats a little,
Fingers tighten and she whispers “start again”
“I want to suck the sacred poison from intoxicated skies
Philosophise with rent boys
High five the hell-bent and the heaven-sent
And stent the city’s arteries
With sycophantic merengues to the high priests of the moshpit
And wash the slack-skinned strippers
With oils and scents and the unspent dreams of the departed.”
She dissects you with her disappointment.
Her words infect you, dripped from lips injected
With so many years of intravenous hurt
“There are more lines of poetry on my face
Than in all the rhymes that you will ever write”
And you remember:
You should be at a poetry slam
And this is why you’re not,
The superficialities and artificialities,
The shiteness, triteness, emptiness and skin deep sheer banalities
And you say “I want the pain to stop”
Juliette Binoche unbuttons her shirt,
Opens a condom,
Throws the rubber on the floor
And slides the foil across her chest and takes your hand
And presses it into the blood,
Peels back a flap of skin
And your fingers slip like toes
Through the sand on the last beach on earth
And as her heart contracts beneath your palm she says
“I want the pain to start.”