Let us go now, you and I,
where the neon screens the colours of the sky
like a surgeon masked against malpractice lawsuits;
let us go, through squalid body-littered streets,
the hope-bereft retreats
of helpless drunkards begging booze and fags
and doorways cluttered with sleeping bags.
Streets that stalk you like a mugger's heavy tread
start a rhythm in your head
that drives you toward brighter light and safety.
Oh, do not stop or wait now
we must run, or else face fate now.

In the bars the grey suits bray and bawl
speaking of stocks and shares, and all.

The pizza smoke that falls and hangs upon the exhaust fumes
The acrid smoke that winds its bread smell into exhaust fumes
Curled itself upon the window-sills and doorsteps,
lingered upon curtains of bedsit rooms,
carried upon its back the greasy stink of burgers.
Oozed past a mailbox, rustled between bins,
and in the darkness of the harsh October night
twined round legs in bus queues, stroking shins.

And, you know, there should be time
for the pizza smoke that slides along the street,
winding itself into exhaust fumes;
yet there's no time, there's never time
to prepare a lie to meet the stories that you meet;
time's stolen as you hold the phone and wait
and read the words by countless keystrokes formed
which draw and drop conclusions on your plate;
pushing there and pulling here
and telling you a hundred contradictions,
another hundred half-truths and whole fictions,
while you sink yourself in Chinese food and beer.

In the bars the grey suits bray and bawl
speaking of stocks and shares and all.

And indeed there's never time
to wonder, "What's the truth?" and, "Where's the point?"
time to look and see life out of joint,
to satisfy or maybe disappoint ---
(they will say: "See, she's on the downward slide!")
My working clothes, my make-up always carefully applied,
my smart shoes blackly polished, with my laptop swinging at my side
(They will say: "But see, grey hairs she tries to hide!")
What's the point
in this tired universe?
grasping duties steal our time
from creation and elation as we hurry to the hearse.

For I have done it all already, done it all:
have served the phone, the fax, the mailing list
I have measured out my life in deadlines missed;
I know the endless beeping of a busy call
and jangling music of a life on Hold

and still remained controlled.

And I have heard the words already, heard them all--
The words that stick you in a neatly labelled slot,
And when I am neatly labelled, tucked on a shelf,
When I am stacked and tidied by the wall,
Then will I find myself
And scream out all the stories I wish I'd forgot?

Or will I remain controlled?

And I have paid the price already, paid it all--
costs that were advertised as fair and cheap
(but after interest, how they cut deep!)
Is it just false memory
makes me think once hope was free
while I buy transitory peace, or pay for leaves in fall?

And should I stay controlled?
And can I find myself?
  • . . . .

Shall I say, I have toiled past dusk at shaded desks
and heard the curses spew from the mouths
of weary men in shirt-sleeves, struggling with Windows? . . .

I should have been a pair of artist's hands
splashing paint on canvas with practised ease
  • . . . .

And the working weeks, the weekends, run so frantically!
driven by obsession
always tired . . . or in depression,
curled in a cubicle, tapping a key.
Can I, after checking stores and prices,
find the strength to face another momentary crisis?
And though I have typed and printed, typed and bound,
though I have seen my name (in gilded caps) embossed upon a cover,
I am no author--my tale's of cash, not lovers;
I have seen my chance for greatness flutter,
and I have seen it in fleeting moments melt away, like butter,
and in short, I let it pass.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
after the meetings, proposals, reports,
among the barbeques, among some talk of pension funds,
would it have been worth while,
to have seized upon my motives with a smile,
to have held hypocrisy up to the light
to let them see me free of all deception,
to say: "This is who I am, all masks aside,
this is my real face, see my real face"--
If one, turning without a break in stride,

should say: "This is hardly the time or place.
This is quite the wrong place."

And would it have been worth it, after all,
would it have been worth while,
after the lunchtimes and the wine-bars and the smutty jokes,
after promotion, after the pay rise, after the nameplate on the office door--
and this, and so much more?--
It is impossible to express what I mean!
But if I projected all my deepest thoughts and secrets on a screen,
would it have been worth while
If one, glancing up idly, and seeing my thoughts' trace,
Should raise a mocking eyebrow and say:

"This is quite the wrong place,
This is hardly the time or place."
  • . . . .

No! I am not so fearless, nor so open, me;
I'm an observer still, too scared to act
I'll not meet fiction with revealing fact,
I'm too entrenched, too fixed, to lift a lance,
tilt at windmills, rage, embrace a cause.
I, instead, cautious, clutch security,
cherish ambitions, but with no true force.
I head, I know, toward obscurity
but apathy endures.

See time fly . . . see time fly . . .
I can see the glories of my dreams pass by

Can I reach for them instead? Do I dare to take the chance?
I could leave despair behind me, and venture out entranced
I have heard the music playing, I could dance.

I do not think that I can learn the song.

I have heard it spiral skyward on the air
climbing the rainbow when the storm is done
and the mist is split and shattered by sun.

I have hummed it in the silence of my hopes
A whisper hung with promise, a truth's shade
Then my lies consume me, and it fades.

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