The Poetry Kit
Gosford Green, Back Then
Phillip, with his University of Warwick politics,
so free from responsibility that he could live
for his ideals and have a solution to the world's
ills. Perfection often came from tyrants, he
told us. Never pre-judge just from what we
read in westernised sanitised history. Be the
Bolivian peasant, the worker building the
enclosures that would eventually bar him.
Becky's tongue would lightly run between the
gummed edges and squeeze together the two
papers. She would fill this with Virginia on the
laminate of her study-book and conversation
would continue but all eyes would follow her
fingers; rubbing brown-black resin along the
length, then lifting and folding, the tongue
glistening again to finally seal; one end twisted,
held and shook. Only then would we look up.
Siobhan would tell us that the protest singers
were just fake, singing of oppression and poverty
while lining their pockets, soaking up gullible
and impressionable fools, like Phillip, like me.
Don't buy the mock anger, read The Grapes
Of Wrath then decide or remain indolent.
But there's entertainment and beauty in
compassion too, we'd argue. And it wasn't
all protest. It was love and awareness too
and Suzanne had changed our concept of
what could be performed as music and the
Gates Of Eden could even change lives.
All around, just by the road, the solicitors'
offices threatened, awaiting referrals from
neatly positioned estate agents. The smoke
was free for us and held in our lungs until
released to discolour the clouds, lazily-hanging
perfume, the taste exquisite, unmistakable.
Becky asked us to explain just what was so
great about a poet who permanently begged
money, who stole suits and pissed the bed.
It was the perfect time to answer.
The green's metal railings successfully held
the world at bay, the street sounds diminished,
the bird-song enhanced. The girls heard the
music and held each other in dance. We just
lay in the sun, watched their dancing legs,
creased hems and flowered pants as they
revolved above us, happy in the union. Four
figures in a perpetual summer, Pinot Grigiot
on the grass, the scene panning higher until
merging into trees contained within an oval
of green, an oasis in the heart of the city.