Sunday, November 20, 2016

Men in iron masks.

"We show the room where the man in the iron mask was imprisoned for seventeen years, it's quite big, has a vaulted ceiling and is lit by a single window. It is perhaps the only place on the island which is dark and cool, at the time of the year when we were visiting, we could appreciate the shade all the more, but the contrast of this darkness with the startling light which floods the bay and the wonderful amphitheatre of the Var mountains, must have worsened the sadness of the poor prisoner."

Hang dog.

He sat there alone, a beaten dog, his whole being was caving in on the chair. Each time he attempted to verbalise, his eyes welled up, his shoulders dropped, it was all that he could do not to sob.

He could see no further than the bars.

We were his jailers.

He was waiting for the bullet.

Burning in hell.

"You were in a bad way." she said.

I knew that to be true.

I let it bleed.

I could say it.

Who might listen, I didn't care.

I could say it.

I could shriek it.

It was a first step.

Hang dog.

"It's OK to cry," I said,  

"I spent months unable to do more than weep."

"I know it is not OK."

"It is shit."

"It is worse than shit."

"That is where you are."

"I know."

While we can, while we are not threatened in our candour, let us weep.

In that box.

There was a dark stain on the faded wall-paper.

We sat watching the stain, it did not move.

We looked at the the place where the TV had been before its repossession.

We became suddenly aware of the poverty of the decoration.

Angular, low ceiled, square windowed, we saw the ugliness of "social" architecture for what it was.

We were in the box marked: "Trash".

"Things can always get worse," I said.

All amusement had been stripped away.

Chains of sorrow.

I read the bleakness of my friend's words.

"I been brought down to zero, pulled out and put back there.
I sat on a park bench, kissed the girl with black hair
And my head shouted down to my heart
“You better look out below!”
Hey, it ain’t such a long drop don’t stammer don’t stutter
From the diamonds in the sidewalk to the dirt in the gutter
And you carry those bruises to remind you wherever you go."

It had taken a while to summon the courage, to return there.

We insulate ourselves.

We hope for better.

Until the train crash.

They record the facts.

We are the small print.

On the railroad.

I am propped up, my face gazing at reflections, stuck to the pane of the carriage window.  Condensation mists my view, water drops slide down the glass like so many tears. 

All is darkness.

Little lights, 
Of little lives, 
Of little homes, 
Rush by.

I catch glimpses of family life.

I catch glimpses of bedsit life.

I imagine, fights, parties, laughter, anger, birth and grief.

My mind reaches out an instant, and then they are gone, gone into the darkness.

We never meet.

We never meet.

We never meet.

We are never met.

Men in iron masks.

There are those who have a black heart, who revel in a living death.

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” 

Dorothy Parker

Wealth is just deserts.

Poverty is indigestion.

You are the shit.

You don't like it?

They don't like it.

It's an annoyance.

"Be happy to live, dog!"

"Your fucking misery is polluting the mediterrenean."

"Die, drown, weep but not on my fucking beach."

There was a time, their gloves were velvety Dolce and Gabbana.

Now their gloves are off.

They have iron fists.

They have iron hearts.

They have iron souls.

They have iron bars to ruin any view.

Weep, so that they may rust and rot...

A hidden message.

Three hundred years later, we walked into the cell.

We saw a little hole in the painted wall. 

We stretched up, poked a stick in the hollow. 

Pulling the stick back, we drew out a bundle of manuscripts tied up in string.

The bundle belonged to an Irish prisoner.

We took it out into the light to inspect it.

Half written in English, half written in French.

The words of Andrew Mac Donagh spell


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

Maya Angelou. I know why the caged bird sings.

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” 

Virginia Woolf.  A room of one's own.

Steel my poem friends.


  1. Things will get worse sez the lame prophet, a lame curse dribbling from his lips. So add some venom and push the Scovilles to "Carolina Reaper" and beyond and push the pain points, our own especially.