Serial Numbers

By | 1 July 1998

And tell the truth – the tumult of various expendable
business plans, and the evening blinked in like a landing jet,
apparently graceful, in fact screaming nuts and bolts –
shaking metal plus desire equals travel industry bond
finance downturn explains his desperation –
he never got over the way his father hated him,
and shook a fist at himself in the mirror, rushing out
to join his pals at a gathering, cheese and wine
and social exchanges a whirling confetti – for a moment
the pack of snarling gibbons recognised something simian
about the crowd at the poetry reading, their embraces
heartfelt yet somehow insincere – talent
given muscle by a bicycle pump, show biz
slang and chatter bouncing off the plexiglass –
model twaddle, chop throttle, sling hash and babble –
there – I don’t remember a thin Singaporean
speaking gently into the handset about the banking
teletype network linking the island republic
to a pit of treasury dread in Yokohama – banknote
suction whirlwind – the old investment managers
fuck up due to lack of basic training in futures hedge
management – chattering over the sherry in between
profit and loss is not the safety rope,
he’d chosen to be an alcoholic, heavily crinkled,
a choice made up of thousands of little weaknesses
day by day, wearing down the rock of his self-esteem.
The young professors traded gossip and influences
– I had lunch with Mister Hartford – oh, really? – just
lunch? – like kids with cigarette cards and pictures of Batman
when they should be practising their knots and lanyards.
Now the secret no one talks about – lack of talent.
You see? Dead quiet. Her cow-lick was a flexible
bang, while the quay water alfresco wavelets
wobbled through those long railing antlers, bracket,
I mean, slicing up the light into vertical samples,
each related to the one parallel, drawing energy
from each other, a team of singing brothers –
one dollar smells like its sibling in the wallet – print,
print – there’s a ferry wandering and churning the surface
now sprinkled with rain. The thunder there
was hypnotised – widespread, miniature, far ranging –
flattering the city with dreams of a distant time
when everything was hunky-dory and a hamburger
was something to get excited about. Not the saxophone,
not the forgotten instruments, the cowbells
across the evening pastures, shit on the boots,
or the dew like crystal points on the morning radio
news traffic report not needed here, no traffic,
nothing happens in this town that God don’t
know about – he’s dreaming it, and we’re Him.

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