Wait for 2 a.m. and count to three.
Listen for the waveform pulse,
a dripping tap, bodies curdling
metallic juices. Take a shot.
Imagine thunder, jazzmen pounding,
horseshoes running into drum kits,
every ripple flicking beads away
from skin. Wait until it slows.
Allow the image to kaleidoscope:
steam trains chugging, ancient
metronomes, dandelions bending
in the breeze, a body going pale,
vision fading, multi-legged black
things hovering nearby, invisible.
Concentrate and it will stop.
The ending sounds like cold
surprise, spontaneous religion,
a spotlight on an empty stage,
a dying metaphor, a shitty page.
Open up beside the veterans,
look them in the eye and shrug,
let them do their job. I’m sorry,
sir, we have to diagnose you with
still breathing. Still breathing.
Writers sit like woodpeckers in coffee shops,
all sudden looks and twitchy feet.
You’re either twenty-five or want to be
at these events, where namedrops fall
like cigarettes and every guest has pictures
of their famous friends, studied philosophy
at Famous School in Place Exotic.
“Are you a poet too?” No, I’m here because
I missed my shot of self-aggrandisement
this week and felt like catching up.
They watch in reverence, waiting for a bow,
awake for weakness in the publisher’s defence
and I think, secretly, they all hate poetry.
They’ve been dreaming about dreaming of this.
Marc Brightside lives in South London. He first discovered poetry at university under the tuition of Julian Stannard. His poem Eleven Years of May was commended in the 2016 National Poetry Competition. His debut poetry collection, Keep it in the Family, is available via Dempsey & Windle, and he frequently performs readings in-and-around London. Facebook and Twitter @MarcBrightside