The Dummy Thing
My rundown wife interrupts this poem to ask
if we are watching the film tonight and I growl
Can't you see I am writing a fucking poem? Jesus!
and she says SORRY and I ask how I'm supposed
to write about my gambling addiction if she's going
to make me feel guilty about a stupid film as well
and she wails like a little girl I SAID I'M SORRY!
and runs into the bedroom slamming the door
waking our baby daughter after we've just spent
an hour trying to get her to sleep and I sit here on fire
wondering if I should be the one to get up and do
the dummy thing or if my wife is going to get up
and do the dummy thing or will she sulk for a while
waiting for me to apologise for being such a bastard
but then she drifts out of the cold bedroom
soothes our daughter back to sleep and creeps into
the living room to haunt me beside my writing desk
as I spit a lump of Nicotine gum into the dust beneath
my desk lamp and begin with that crazy old bitch
on the next machine rubbing the screen begging
for sevens as a bright blue slot sucks our money away
and the arcade manager brings me crap coffee in a dirty
white mug and ten pounds worth of brass loyalty tokens.
I do my praying in bathrooms, a (clean)(dirty) white place. My beard is itchy.
Repeating the names of people who keep me alive regulates my breathing.
Kneeling on a damp rug, forehead balanced on the edge of the sink,
taps running like childish fear; please: it's colder now and I need to know.
Nicotine gum under my tongue is the science teacher who hated me.
Friction burns around my dick, a rash of worn out fantasies.
Angry at myself for being angry is a word I can't pronounce. What's the point
in asking God to keep my reckless friend alive if, after discharging herself
from hospital, she's going to drink red wine on top of the medication?
A green leaflet in the waiting room tells me, "Take a moment every day
to admire the beauty around you.'' and there's a picture of an old couple
on a park bench smiling up at a tree. The junkie opposite us butters
the knees of his tracksuit bottoms with his slimy fingers. A bleeding girl burps.
What is this life and how are we supposed to fit it onto the bookshelf?
Our doctor calls us in and, shivering under photos of his perfect family,
my wife plugs her guitar into my belly button as I do the Howlin' Wolf.
His voice, a burning cigarette
lost in their bed sheets.
He turns her name into a Ferris wheel.
My dreams are full of sex.
In my dreams I'll fuck anyone.
People with skin like plastic bags
washed up on Blackpool beach.
Eyes that remind me to brush my teeth.
You get the picture.
But my friend, in the back of the car
whispering Paris to his girlfriend,
he's cool as a dealer's heart and will never know,
will never, never, never
be me and that's what I was thinking while
everybody else discussed their favourite novel,
bright lights unravelling country lanes
and fog ahead of us all the way.
Dreamed I was the unhinged
surgeon huffing laughing gas.
That horrible bastard cold
on my table in the basement,
fluorescent light flickering.
A party upstairs.
Clink of glasses. Laughter.
A row of shiny sharp things singing to me.
His heart looked like 100 cigarette butts
stapled to a Gremlin.
WARNING! Flammable blood.
Sewer scum brain
scooped out and slam-dunked
into a bin full of half-eaten Big Macs.
Other organs (fed to wild cats out back)
replaced with vampire bats.
Face cut off and glued to a football.
Eyes and tongue for Cheech the lab dog.
Stuffed the skull with pictures of Jesus
and letters you wrote begging for his addictions to disappear
like a rival gangster or phantom pregnancy.
I woke up sweaty
and went for a piss in a daze,
my therapist's mantra with a splash of cold water
to bring me home.
Then I put myself back together
and dropped a kiss on you
before the light came.
If you could rise from a pile of grave dirt
by my side of the bed
and get mixed up in my pubes
it would keep me from obsessively touching
the wound on our hallway Christ.
I'm sick of closing doors
with my left foot and turning around
three times because I'm crazy
and it's been too long since
the blood rollercoaster
© Bobby Parker 2011