Sovereign House, Norwich


Why would the Queen need a building

that looks like a mutant slug

had mated with a spaceship,

in Norwich, to store her paper clips?

Well, it seems she doesn’t, and she must be holding

them instead in a lion-and-unicorned silk bag,

because Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

has for twelve years been a postmodern cave,

a plywood-patched leviathan of an edifice.


I yanked up one of its mutant glass eyelids

and then, fingers gripping the groove

of a filing-cabinet the size of a milk-float,

levered myself into a room where solids

were not.

Walls holes that spilt foam.

Doors firing-targets.

Dead bullets frogspawned about the carpet.

Had the Queen’s own frogs leapt around

these corridors, spitting the words “room clear”

across walls after stabbing them to dust-coughing death

with a sledgehammer and a breath

of royal gunfire?


Outside a paper-storage cupboard

a blue biochemical bodysuit adorned

the floor                among pigeon skeletons and

               silence,                       limbs splayed like a chalk outline.

Sun-bleached little cardboard signs jabbered

“Occupants evacuated. All suspicious items

removed” in a Cold War typeface.

Evacuated how? With boots in their scrotums?

And then a room full of rickety hospital

bedframes in echoing                          shivering

               silence.                         A key with a tag saying “Biological

Anatomy – Annie”.                         A glass case

with three taps, ‘water’, ‘air’

and ‘nitrous oxide’. Isn’t that laughing gas?


From a cobweb-curtained graffitied fifth-floor

window, watching Norwich go about

its trolley-trundling mustard-bottling

yellowgreen-taxied business, I stood

swaddled in graveyardish air and industrial hum

until, brain rattling,

fear ticking like a time-bomb,

instinct screaming get out get out get out,

visions whistling through my head

of nuclear apocalypse,

of zombies jack-in-the-boxing out from behind mossy desks

gushing blood over pin-prickled maps

of East Anglia and wall-planners deadlining dead tasks,

I panted past the uprooted coffee-machine,

weaving round nooselike electric cables

and a mound of floppy disks,

back over the filing-cabinet and then

free, comforted by baubles

on the forecourt of a greeting-card boutique,

heart hammering like a woodpecker’s beak.





© Gammon 2020
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no comments or critique sought.
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