This Friday just gone, I had the pleasure of reading at the launch of the 67th issue of Rising, the poetry magazine run by the legendary Tim Wells which cheerfully maintains no online presence. The poem I had in this issue was inspired by Babylon (embedded below), a wonderfully dark and chilling Aardman animation of 1986 about a dinner at an arms dealers’ convention. (If you’re watching it at night, you might want to turn the light on.)
Doppelgangers’ dinner party
Open wide, you guzzling men!
Your throats are rippling with sweet beer.
You eat and drink and eat again,
you snort dreams cut in lines and smear
sickness on the back of your gums.
You electric eels, you sit and gorge
on drunk pears and exploded plums.
In your biggest thickest hands you forge
dragon signatures, spitting guns,
kisses that taste like pencil lead.
You engage the meat ― you suck the bones
and swallow gobbets slick and red,
you smash big fruit into telephones
and wonder why the line is dead,
then look up, licking your mad eyes.
You filthy dribblers, you toothless boys,
you turn off the lights and talk in sighs.
While the world is up to its neck in noise
and people are robbed by dogs in disguise,
you get an amorous feeling between your toes
Doppelgangers fuck doppelgangers –
your rusty love comes to a close
when partisans and weapon-clangers
come shooting up the heaving rows
of doppelgangers banging in the dark.
We’re waiting for you in the square.
In low voices we remark
how choked your mouths are and your hair.
The game’s up, gangers. The street dogs bark;
you’ve nowhere to hide. We’ve nothing to fear.