Prelude

Two choruses in a vorspiel of flu:
next door a rock band’s
pagan bass invading my flat;
downstairs a sustained ‘Yairs’—
a termagant from Patrick White
floating it to hector us.
Traffic rushes past, ignoring the madman
on the kerb, angular as kites.
All day he sobs, ‘I am not, not, not’,
reminding me of one I saw years ago
at the Rome Railway Station,
banging his head on the machines,
(coffee, condoms, Coca-Cola,
anything commercial), banging them so hard
that blood sprayed down his chest
like spurts of martyrdom,
while tutti romani hurried to their trains,
fearful, cashmered, blinkered,
avoiding this glimpse
of what their brothers had become.

 

 

 

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