On the Outskirts of Apathy
It seemed there was little left to undertake,
not a thing that was worth the bother of,
like unwashed plates or crumpled unmade beds,
unweeded gardens, lawns that should be mown,
that cupboard door still hanging by a hinge,
children's washing rotting in a pile
and lists of things to do thrown in the bin.
Half a dozen novels in a heap
confirmed his inability to end
those tasks begun half-heartedly at best
before the pall of ennui cast it's gloom,
much like ecliptic light cast by the moon
intervening where there should be sun.
Bills unpaid and mounting on the shelf,
the car besmeared and quite a riot of rust,
the path unswept, a rot of autumn leaves,
that smashed tile letting rain in through the roof
and all he wants to do is have a rest,
take evidence, think certainty is proof
enough that, finally, there's little left
but mounting an attack on those that shriek
adherence to the chains of common sense;
that petit bourgeois sanctimoniousness
implied by Sunday roasts and polished cars,
sane views on immigration and the fact
we all know who's to blame for unemployment.
The leaflet's half completed on the screen,
the hard disk's unfragmented space is small.
It crashes twenty times an afternoon
until his anger dissipates like smoke
and clarity that what he's doing is crap
descends like waves of sunlight through a lens.
The half drunk cups of coffee stain with rings
the window sill he'd placed them upon.
He finds another cup beneath the couch.
The coffee's grey with spores of mouldy milk
and, further in, the plate baked hard with sauce
he'd had with pie and chips the week before.
The campaign faltered then. He recognised
the effort was not worth the anxiousness
implicit in a project of this kind.
He briefly thought of tidying the place
before the evening news made sure he wept.
Yet when his tears were hardly dry, he swept.
The street is full today
of faces that I know.
I see them everywhere
in dreams that we all share,
that pulling undertow,
subconsciousness at play
but vivid in my sight.
How is it that we lost?
What led us here? What cost
is mounting? Where is light?
Who are we among?
The vision of yesterday
is overtaken, gone.
Yet struggle still remains.
We calculate the gains,
those we count upon,
those we'll not betray
despite the fact we're weak.
So where now do we turn
to beat back what is dark;
that confounded oligarch
who ever strives to burn
those very things we seek?
For Arthur Knowles
On balance, we haven't much to give,
ground out of us more like, in shards of
labour we hardly call our own,
sold on like hand-me-downs, used up,
withered on the bone,
flesh weeping out of us like tears.
And when we're wrung limp,
lacking even the will to worry
more about others than ourselves,
seeing no sense in community,
we're left, allowed to grieve for the loss
darkening each corner of our lives.
So what we have is what we have to give.
We bend, we laugh, we work, we weep, we live.