It’s quite a while since I’ve published ‘poetry’, and I feel that I need to give a little context to this particular piece. I was reading a poem by James (James Proclaims) the other day and the style of it encouraged me to look back on something of my own from long, long ago. Many many years ago I started a book which, much like a lot of what I have done since, I didn’t finish. It was called ‘The Six Days’ and it was about the end of the world. There have been many such books and films both before and since – at least one of which, I note, has utilised the same premise and exactly the same time scale as my own. My book was actually a collection of short stories, vignettes and poems telling the story of how little the forthcoming Armageddon actually impacted on everyday life for most of my cast of misfits. It stalled about half way through. I wasn’t old enough to write it, and before I was, somebody else had done it. Not as I wanted to do it, but close enough to make me look like the sub-plagiarist if I persisted – so I didn’t. In my head, the book I intended to write was like a ‘concept album’ and this was the title track. I have played with it from time to time ever since. This will help me to leave it alone…
The End of the World
Bloody ‘fridge has packed in again.
A pool of water spilled onto the floor
Where the cat sleeps.
Froze as solid as a rock, it did;
Had to ease him out with warm spoons
And that’s no joke.
I think it must be the warmest place in the house –
Except, maybe, for the freezer
Which stopped freezing almost a month ago –
The milk has turned to cheese,
The cheese has turned to mould
And the little light doesn’t come on anymore
When you open the door.
At least the walls are thin –
We can hear them rowing next-door.
Screaming and swearing because the dog has lost control
On the Shepherds pie
And the central heating has developed a mind of its own:
Equatorial temperatures killing off the house plants;
Giving the children heat bumps;
Melting his favourite nylon vest…
It seems that Jim at number three
Arose the worse for wear;
Fell down the stairs
And cut his head on the ornamental pig by the door.
Yelled the house down.
Woke the whole bloody street.
Such a fuss!
Went to hospital on his motorbike.
Strewth! What a noise it makes,
Set the baby off
I wonder if she knows
About the end of the world?
And now the power’s gone.
The government says we could grind to a halt unless we tighten our belts,
And get back on our feet.
But nobody cares about inflation, taxation, education, or unemployment;
About food rotting on the supermarket shelves
And children screaming into the emptiness of dark
Because there’s no time left to die
And life is still the toy of the few who can play:
A gift for those who know
That food is power among the starving,
God is strength among the poor
And death is the only truth they’ll know
About the end of the world.
You see, it’s about the end of the world and yet it still sounds, to me, unduly bleak. The rest of the book was more uplifting I suppose; funny in parts, sentimental, but not bleak. This frontispiece was just not right, and I couldn’t make it so, so I stopped trying and now, I hope, it has gone.
I would hope to be able to wait for the final curtain on a grassy hillside somewhere, with my family, a picnic and a bottle of wine, playing football and toasting marshmallows on the bonfire – it has to be the way to go, doesn’t it?
“The year 1999, seventh month, from the sky will come a great King of Terror: to bring back to life the great King of the Mongols, before and after Mars to reign by good luck. The present time together with the past will be judged by the great Joker: the world too late will be tired of him, and through the clergy oath-taker disloyal. The year of the great seventh number accomplished, it will appear at the time of the games of slaughter: not far from the great millennial age, when the buried will go out from their tombs.” – NOSTRADAMUS (The Prophecies of Nostradamus) – Is it wrong to suggest that he might have been twenty one years adrift?
PS The new photo has nothing to do with the end of the world, it’s just that I thought I probably needed to update it, to prove that I am not a bot (whatever they are). As far as I can see, the only thing that has changed is the specs. I still look like a dork – and I still have to look at my hand when I’m trying to take a selfie…