J O H N N E W T O N
A blizzard in which you wake glazed with sweat
and they sponge you down with the curtains open.
Vegan astronaut gruel and a laminated bracelet.
Of all the hands the sea could have dealt you,
to have washed up here among
the dead shags and the scummy Antarctic foam,
with a bellyful of vodka and a chestful of saltwater,
sea-lice nested in your delicate gills.
At visiting hours the diminutive mortals
inscribe their condolences on your cast.
They rinse out your bandages and leave behind slick-paper magazines.
When the Frau Professor returns from her ward round
you’d better have those numbers in agreement
or she won’t be answerable.
Rumour has it that she can’t speak English.
All that smiling and trying to add up!
Did nobody learn their lesson from the Grindstone Cowboy?
A modest surplus of disposable income,
a genteel poverty of the soul,
you could die in the traces
and the Bureau would just tip you in the shredder.
Meanwhile, back in the gurgling vortex,
the politicians are ordering breakfast,
they’re underlighting the faux shrubbery,
the lovers sleep where they fell.
Then someone appears with an offer that is not to be wondered at.
Remember that day you signed into the army,
descending on the city with a cloud in your lungs?
Here’s to champagne care on a beer budget,
republican valour of the three-legged dog.
You wave at the clipboard in your elegant cursive,
tear the drip out of your arm and go shopping.