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sketches of self

Providence is inattentive.

I toss these crumbs and nothing happens.

The sparrows come but after I’m gone,

which is no fun. I get my deposit back

because I’m careful: I keep notes,

mental notes of good deeds I have done –

like receipts for power bills. I count my friends

and mark them out of five, in stars, like movies:

I cut half a star for a careless word,

and give it back when they’re dead.


I know, I think, my… magnanimous

motives: I caught my-self, like a flash,

framed in the mirror, fiddling

the books. Providence is…slow;

decrepit, almost; has her lucid

moments, tho. I’m pro euthanasia –

like Nature:  not indifferent;

neutral.  My one good eye is open.

The left hand I keep hidden, it’s sinister;

cunning, underhanded. When I was a boy


I was a doctor, and for a time

I practiced on my mother; in my bag: string,

masking tape, a hammer; and other odds and ends.

I believe I was good at it. I had passion,

but kept a cool head in a crisis. I showed good judgment.

I talked to my patient. To understand her.

And her maladies: I took it upon myself, and for a time

became an exorcist (and showed signs of mania);

then a footballer, a musician (in that order);

finally, a dancer. Seven – my lucky number:


so I played on the right wing for Glasgow Rangers.

I was a Catholic and wanted to play for Celtic:

(Macbeth, at that time, I think, was their manager)

Bobby Lennox, Billy McNeill and Dixie Deans –

no place for me in a team like that, but later

I became the famous Baryshnikov of the beautiful game –

quick, with two good feet, I ran rings around Ferguson

(in training). He was brutal by the way, a typical defender;

what they call “no nonsense”, “honest”, i.e.: a slugger,

no frills: frankly, awful. Providence slumbers –


my friend Zen reckons that good things sometimes happen

to bad people and that Karma is a crock of shit.

He’s right. I don’t envy your success. I’m just bitter.

I’m kind and I never complain. Except now. And then –

when you bled – you sly fucker – my delicate

flowers; my darling buds of May. When I was a girl

I went to London Zoo on my daddy’s shoulders.

I loved the animals; my first memory – the Reptile House


and the lions and the tigers, and a giraffe frightened me:

it was the neck and the little head, and the colours

and I remember the minder doing mean things with her teeth

and hot tea and said it was an accident and mother believed her

“so cute I could eat her literally” – that word’s commonly abused.


I took to alcohol abuse; my friend Kim,

s/he calls it super-use and that makes me laugh;

s/he’s my drinking buddy and my new best friend.

What a prick my teacher was – he had me up


against the wall. His name was McDuff

and my daddy beat him up. One day

I’ll look him up. I guess not. But I won’t forget:


a fantasist, I think of it – not a poof

or anything. It’s just that…


forget it – you mightn’t understand.

It’s just that…No, I can’t go on:


I’m shy; really, no: I’d rather not.


The piles supporting my house.

One of them is in decay, one day

it will give – should I get

Builders’ Bog? Will that do?

I lost a tooth – a wisdom tooth

And someone cracked a joke about it.

I know this guy who will knock your teef out

better than any dentist. And cheap.


[Note to Reader: I got that from Gogol: ‘Dead Souls’

– I recommend it – it’s really funny – but, you know,

those Russians…they take sadly to their drink, and it’s grim]


But he won’t anaesthetize you.

And he doesn’t use any tools.

Yes No