Panthers by Paul Sutton

Snow on fingers which feel nothing.

Stolen diamonds, apartments open to clouds.

I have lived for sunlight and

 

coffee in scorched squares.

Four months in an adjacent shop,

asleep in the heat, testing walls.

 

The gang laughed at my shame.

They got access, dug through –

I had the boss in his office.

 

There is beauty in deceit, reborn

by checking in and out – warmth

of towelling garments, mini-bars.

 

I stare at the screens.

Council houses in England.

Who can live like that?

 

*

 

In the politics of shame, I have no stake.

My state a broken playground for addicts.

I class cities by war or never war – all the same for luxury and its fruit.

 

*

 

Unseen cliffs and ravines,

switchback roads and

plunging waterfalls.

 

“Beauty will get fucked.”

Was it a bad joke or

words from a poem?

 

*

 

The bar behind the bowling alley is where they still meet.

Crashing, rolling, reassuring. Drinkers are desperate now:

“Nuneaton”; “Carlisle”; “Basildon” – what places are these?

 

Working in dark warehouses, too much for you English.

Selling inflatables in the eastern Mediterranean.

Army issue ex-combat – some have a conscience.

 

*

 

Don’t we all have a “special time”

and it replays like film?

Mine was a summer when a

 

kitten lived in my bedroom.

I fed it scraps and stolen milk.

I’ve forgotten the rest.

Populism (part two) by Paul Sutton

I.

Oh for a muse to tell our sodden tale,
a dreamscape to cheer the sorry traveller.
Poet, sing us corvid-chasing buses
clearing the outer suburbs, to vasty
fields under a white horse on that bald hill;
huddled victims, and middle managers
of the failing public sector, with their
PowerPoints due on some restructure.

I met the liberal on a frosty night, as the sky cracked and its clear moon exposed our frailties.

Have you read The Grand Inquisitor?

This its antithesis.

He gorged on suffering.

Grabbing a pinnacle (not Westminster, Faringdon Folly) – loftiness in destroying an individual.

‘Children stuffed up chimneys, not with sweets at Christmas pantos.’

Who do you think you are? celebrities weep at slave-owning ancestors.’

‘Degrees in Leisure Studies less deadly than tuberculosis.’

Chronicling a tragic dinner lady who lives with badgers and worships Ferrero Rocher, Hunter’s chicken, two-for-one meals at Harvester.

‘Once she’d reach thirty – producing fifteen children.’

‘Now she can read White Teeth or Miriam Clegg’s recipes.’

I was shown two Slovakians sleeping on a flat-screen delivery box.

Then I smashed out his teeth with my DVD of Sink the Bismarck.

Removed his testicles with a bayonet from Zulu.

Force-fed him ship’s biscuits, pease pudding, Mickey Finns.

Shoved in Ralph Fiennes’ silk pyjamas.

II.

But his wife’s documentary survived – her urgent voice:

‘These our fellow citizens.’

Deep South lynchings and images of Kristallnacht, intertextualised with statistics on ‘rising hate crimes’ since June 23rd 2016.

‘I’m narrating and blaming you.’

Later, I dangled from the Folly.

Clear views over the Vale.

My violence imagined.

III.

Finally, I am allowed to speak. Past a certain
point in life, there’s too much to carry around;
then nothing is easy. Some bird flaps off,
perfect in its movement, so fit for flight.
I watch it till the light goes.
So that is the last from me.

..

Paul Sutton