Miles of polystyrene beakers
carpet a cow-smelling field.
Kangaroo meat’s up for grabs
in tubs that are clumsily sealed.
It tastes the way a sofa would.
To sit on its aftereffect
I swig from a barrel of vinegary cider,
wipe my neck and suspect
I’m drunk, as I trample on cups with a girl
in fraying, bedraggled attire,
Sharon, then an Irish name,
a blonde and endless pyre
of words that drift in husky cloudlets
and crackle and snap and describe
a fellow whose trousers she’d long ago change
and whose brandy she’d sometimes imbibe.
Often she’d sit and write for him,
often she’d coat his back
with creams and lotions, so his flesh
might not so freely crack.
They’d chuckle together about how he fastened
wristwatches around toilet rolls
and planted flags of various nations
There were things in her life that young Sharon had done
and I’d not dream to do,
like childhood joyriding, for one,
and sleeping with Dutchmen, for two,
that she never discussed with the wrinkle-faced gent,
though she mentioned the time that some fool
derived great amusement from hurling her pet cat
into a swimming pool.
Sharon had booted the bitch in both kneecaps
and promptly lost all of her friends,
apart from me. So, now we slouch
through cups and cigarette ends,
past teddy-boys on stilts and reach
a lake of mud-splashed wigwams
where symbol-cheeked and longhaired souls
meander around in their jimjams,
and we climb through the flap of a witch’s-hat tent
where poets come to squawk
and hippies clap and laugh and stroke
their lentilly beards that fork.
An upstart who brands all the hippies pathetic,
a green anarchist, he claims,
declares that he’s far beyond metre and rhyming
and suchlike irrelevant games.
Sharon smiles, reclining, dabs
of fag-ash on her breasts,
lost in a forest of words about redwoods.
The drug she’s bought infests
and I relax, concluding it could
only have been rolled,
as she lies there and ponders the fellow she once
would protect from the promenade’s cold.
She’d soak up stories of khaki and beige
and respond with a dogged enquiry
and now and then, when left perplexed,
she’d scribble them down in her diary.
Once, deep in a jungle that was
malaria-sodden and mighty,
he’d caught a frisky crocodile,
then dragged him back to Blighty.
With marbles for eyeballs he hung on the wall
inside a polished case,
above all the ladles and runcible spoons,
beside a purple face.
Another bard steps up and jabs
at all points round the compass.
He growls of pinstriped price-brained men
who treated him like fungus
and tells us, “I’m reminded once more,
you are not my people,”
he tells us with a power and
a disregard that’s lethal.
Sharon drifts asleep and on
the grass she dreams a while
about her favourite ornament,
her stuffed crocodile.