Exhibit [poem]

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exhibit

When a man who wants to wade into the sea
to rest his weary bones across eternity
discovers he’s where only concrete reigns,
he fashions for himself a mortar coat
and binds himself with lashings to a tree
where, later on, he drowns in bloody stains.

His former body is Exhibit A, according to
the coroner presiding on the case.
The mortuary noticed some perplexing marks
around the outer contours of his tortured face
and on his ruddy coat were traces of a powder
coming from an unknown source, with scars.

When an expert on this genre of phenomenon
was approached for his professional opinion,
he said that he was nonplussed by the coat.
Then in the hard deep pocket of that sandy shroud
the officers now managing his case had found a note
which only served to deepen all the mys-ter-y
with which this incident had been endowed.

The note (now barely legible) had read like this:

“In the midst of all my wonder
and the thunderous surprise with which I greet
each morning when I wake, another moment
on this tilting wilting earth I cannot take.
The only element I wish to know is sea
but only in conjunction with some poetry;
and if that blend I cannot have, then I will go.
Despite my joyful feelings at
big smiles and sunsets,
presents and presence,
birdsong and bleary-eyedful kiddie-talk,
the miracle of music,
the way that trees look,
big meetings of minds,
the diversity of faces,
Wisteria and other vines,
the pregnancy of Spring in Winter,
the fact that there are
horses
French kisses
atoms
and village idiots (bless them all),
lovemaking and cheesecake,
I am still a reluctant visitor to this planet,
a hesitant passenger —
a vagrant on the hinterland of time.
Loving beauty round me always is my crime.
Therefore, to codify the lack of astral suppleness
in my wings, I shall in sacred silence
mix some sand up with cement
and fling it on my earthbound body.
While I still am wet I will then lash myself
to one of nature’s ever-growing emblems
of the endless move to light;
for here the darkness is engulfing me
and I no longer have the will to fight.
Before I smear my cumbersomely flesh,
to demonstrate the burned-out nature
of my soul some caustic soda will be
sprinkled liberally round my corpse —
a kind of counterbalance tuning-folk
(for I consider I am good as dead and
seek some mortless heavenlife instead).
Sickened by the cult of things
and all the misery, stupidity
and lack of lovingivity which wanting brings,
I yearned for nothing for myself
and only thought of having wealth
for other’s rescue sakes.
I longed to make them happy.
Yet, in the end even that had waned
for others simply were not there.
Nothing from now on can be the same.
No one is going to miss me here;
that much is now becoming clear.
It’s time to end this madness
(as dear Modi to his Jeanne once said);
in me there is no trace of fear.
I might as well be dead.”

The coroner declared him to have
drowned in his own blood,
by his own hand, at his own wish.
(So strange to think it coursed his veins
without a hitch for years before
it swallowed him, his coat and all,
a fish wrapped in a bloody pall).

And now I am sole owner of the harrowed note
which that Exhibit A with all his passion wrote.

 

© Alan Morrison, 2014

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