Email to L.G. and Friends: December 22, 1998

Truth Street is howling festive-hungry
shop-pilgrims stacked twenty-four hours high
with a holy day Mass for Jesus?
Way off message in this sleep-walk zoo.

And you? Nine years since your bloody operetta -
nearly a decade since the TV trembled:
a fired-up cameraman riding a history-shift?
And myself - more rootless/nameless than he -
just to be a leaf in Birnam Wood’s moving -
bandwagoned your triumph for a surrogate home:
Ceaucescu, orphans, the whole shebang.

In this moment I think of Eugene senior
singing while working on a carving
by an open window that November morning -
"Arbeit macht frei – commonahear,
commonahear, Elixender rag tiben…"

And Eugene junior, Camus by wit,
Mozart of feelings, struck by a ton of care:
death and illness in the family.

With sorrow, with cheer -
with the wine of eight years’ daily thought,
I quaff "Noroc" to you both always.

O for megaton warmth of the old cold war,
or at least the thought it held the hot ones off.
Right now, sure as dogs and diamonds,
ring-master Billy - lets call him Strayhorn -
goads a pet whelp to fetch fireballs:
our one and only "call-me-Tony".

Christmas lights behind Bomber Tony
on the steps of Downing Street
you gotta get up to get down, Tone,
it’s time to crack a cracker or two
and throttle that battles’ mother
with 'Peace On Earth' and 'Pop Goes The Weasel'.

Meanwhile in new Russia
("Same flies different ")
the old man’s back again:
has he really been away?

But how does the land of green plums lie?
Truth’s a fog called Timisoara
that time we waited a day for takeoff and spray-painted outside Timis airport:
"Smile Today For Tomorrow Will Be Worse."

Let’s lighten up for a rewind.
Can you imagine in, say, fifteen hundred
some being happening on this planet
glorying in its blue-in-green jeweleries
before the cancer-snake of a new knowledge
had virtually devoured its garden - no?
I hadn’t imagined it myself till now -
and the Earth, trading its biospheric carpet
for the brave new PR furnishings
of the Tony-Bill-Rupert takeover -
surely shopping and shopping will save us save us
cost what it may - a hurricane Mitch or two -
the price never billed to you or me -

but such music suddenly from Hereford Cathedral!
It’s a Ukrainian Christmas carol
from a composer’s work the Stalinists destroyed
save this single salving fragment.

How ruefully you mused through your last e-mail
on high culture as your guilty fix -
but come on now - "smile today for…"
in the beginning the virus hum
germinating spheres that sung
the word known to all men,
howsoever buried under Timisoara fog -
besides, your iron-curtain-melting high poetry
brought the soaps and game shows you craved:
a turn up for the books indeed.

Me? I guess I’ll forage across the day,
fiddling and picking over ruins as ever,
merry as a clown manqué
from a bankrupt circus of mistrials -
then heighho sing heighho
unto the green holly
to be baptised by atoms of a gracelight
splitting at the heart of failure?
Not on your nelly!
far better the chummy loveshow
at the God Squad drive-in
or the super cyberMass.

So let’s hit the howling streets once more
to negotiate the killing din
of God’s birthday party –
bearing in mind
there are still great tales to share
like the ones I’m about to mention:
cheers for now, take care,

©: David Reid.

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