Paul Sutton

Cyclopean (part three)

Oh muse, show us single trees in a winter landscape, sentinel against the coming storm.

Take us way beyond the outer stars, 
into a freedom of space somewhere

For summary reasons of no interest, I spent years alone at bars, exfoliated by the worst of all conversations. 

Drunken lullabies of English drinkers:

“I worked on Death Row. 

We’d keep things light as possible - I remember Reg Cornelius ‘butcher’ Boswell - the last man hanged in Oxford.

Fantastic sense of humour.

Obviously that last week is difficult. 

We livened things up - hiding the noose under his pillow. 

Reg would toss and turn - and sleep was impossible.

Eventually he’d turn it over - that would corpse him.

Loved it. 

On his last night, we hid it under the mattress. 

He slept like a baby. 

I felt terrible waking him up.

We recited his last poem: 

Oh the bird of night
throws its life away, 
cracking wings over
shopping centres and
endless roundabouts.

How can dawn be so
cruel? The light that
creeps along the
prison wall shows
how time ends.”

Unpublishable perhaps.

Another fool was rambling about his old school. 

(“Who cares?” says the badger serving condemned meat).

“I’m in tears. 

I left but never recovered. 

Of course, it’s more like a motorway service station now - though the form room (we watched a caning from there) is council accommodation.

A fire-bucket for safety. 

Fuck me, I hate conkers

A production that evening, some Shakespeare with multiple gender switches and humour no one finds funny - the more unfunny, the louder they laugh.

And I don’t know my lines.

I’d improvise but the climate has changed. 

I peer from behind the stage curtain. 

Mass reading of the program and incessant laughing.” 

If we craw under a table, 
what a world to explore.


Then I woke up to resent
even the simplest of things,
like old trees in the street,
stuff in those clear dividers - 
unbearable - most curtains likewise, 
suit pockets, people on pavements, 
prize winners, updates on holidays, 
paper under cakes, lawn mowers, 
socks that go up too low and
walking between smilers.   

I could go on, but it seems that writers
ignore all this and paste clouds onto their
eyes then sit in some graveyard to read
the stones and worry about their lives -  
I can barely go through a town without
hitting people, whilst sensitive types
lament leylines or drovers’ footprints.
By the way, ever e-mailed some sod
to got a one word reply - misspelled - 
faking informality? Tiresome indeed.

Paul Sutton was born in London and has published five poetry collections – most recent from UK publisher Knives, Forks and Spoons Press: "The Diversification of Dave Turnip" (March 2017). "Falling Off" (KFS, January 2015) was Poetry Book Society Recommended Autumn Reading, 2015. US Collection "Brains Scream at Night" (2010) from NY publisher BlazeVox.