Issue 3

John Redmond
Four Poems

Listen, Battlers, It’s All A Big Mission

Yes, it was “Henry! River! Three o’clock!” and “Village,
Ollie! Village!” There were bulging eyes
across the tumble drier. — “My blood is
purer than yours!” — From lane-end to lane-end
they left a black stream, — “Hail to the Chief
of the Church Walk Challenge!” — as typewritten notes
swept over the freezer. — “Please! The kitchen
is for everyone!” — And lounging in cloisters
they floated with clouds, — “I want to teach
computers to sing …” — in lava-lamp slices
they let their eyes swim, — “Yes, I really am
a rocket-scientist.” — and over the ‘untrue’
table they boomed: “I can do sunflowers better
than Mother Nature!” They sauntered in

before the lecture (with spots of river going
nowhere on their skin) to admit:
“You could feel the middle-class shutters
crashing down …” They memorised everybody’s
middle name, they stared along the Broad
with the enhanced peripheral vision of
little brothers. They ploughed into railings. They
sank to the floor. — “Go on. Take my Queen.
See if I care!” — They sang “I am a C!” They
sang “I am a C!” — They bothered little pubs
on Sunday to admonish beef-and-ale pie,
“I don’t really want to be a man of the world.”
They thought about marriage — “It’s the way
forward!” — They flung Mario out of his car,
captured three red mushrooms, and began
to strangle Eddie Jordan in the Rose and Crown. —
“Did you think that I was made of Teflon?” —

It was “Pick a window!” oh yes, and “Piss
up a rope!” It was “Chaps and chapesses.”
It was “Skip the coffee!” and “Why you mock me?”
and it was halfway through The Deer Hunter
when the voices went: “Is that Robert deNiro?” —
“Isn’t this a one-way street?” — “It is! It is!
That’s Robert de Niro!” — “The only thing he’s
good at is pulling … ” — Isn’t everything?”—
“… and he mings at that ….” They sang “I am a C-H!”
They sang “I am a C-H!” They promised to be done
by summer, autumn, Christmas of next year,
they fled the chip-shop for a tactical chunder, —
“Listen, battlers, it’s all a big mission …” — they
sped to the traffic-light bop in lincoln green, —
“Give the nodders to Jazzy!” — they quit
the all-night poker to chase the morning joggers, —
“Early risers, up the arse!” — they weaved, — “Go back
to your Sheffield slums!”— they revived, — “Imagine
I have two envelopes …” — they went for a flying

ankle-job. — “Get the fat bald bastard! Don’t let him
get away with it!” — Yes, Henry, they carolled,
“I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N …!” Yes, Ollie,
they mused, “Do they still remember the war
in Vietnam?” For it was ‘Henry’, yes, it was
‘Ollie’, oh yes, and it was ‘Village’ — “Oh no,
it’s not The Real World, no …” — “… and I have
C-H-R-I-S-T in my H-E-A-R-T ...”— “But it is
a real world” — “ “One envelope contains
twice as much as the other, right? I hand you
an envelope. I say that it contains five pounds.” —
“… and I will L-I-V-E-E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y!” —
“So. Do you want to swap?”

The Night Porter

  … ancient Janus, with his double face
  And bunch of keys, the porter of the place.
  — Dryden’s Aeneid.

As he hit the step my head would spin
so that my angrier face met his, so that
my easier face could live, Janus-like,
in the lodge’s glaze of video-screens.
Looking up from numbered drawers,
the keys pretended not to see. Each
would hug its copy close as I exhumed
the master-bunch, and flung it down —
all eyes and teeth mixed up — both my
faces grinning at his “Fuck off, Irish git.”

Against stocking-heads and balaclavas
our security-cameras trolled over buddleia
and pergola, though all we ever knew
were blemishes of black and grey — inscrutable
as those the experts probe for origins
of life, the sunless bumps of abyss-walls
taken by the upside-down robot-vehicle.

The Lodge

I surface in the toilet
of the toy house where I lived
and watch myself spray down
the porcelain-sided years.
“Hullo … anyone home?”
How often I would race
(shit) “Just a minute!” (drip)
in frosted windowlight
(finish, finish, just …)
to fiddle up my zip.

A fist-sized sink, a roll
of paper half played-out
on the floor. As ever,
the whole is audible
inside and out, the queer
acoustics of the space, so
near to the front-door
(and even the front gate),
that a visitor’s well-knit mask
of genteel courtesy risked
a gross, explosive flush,
a porter’s grim emergence:
“St. Anne’s?” “No. St. Hughs.”
“Ah. Might it be possible

to stroll through the gardens?”
“It might.” For this toy house
was my house (weekends,
three till ten), this crack through
which world and college
dribbled on each other.
Customers did not tip

although, once, a taxi-driver,
who shuffled in, short-taken,
paid to use the toilet
my mind is in again, where
the rest of me might be —
still fiddling (you can hear this.)

On My Rounds

As though to say, my being is contained,
you hoarded plastic bags across your floor,
till what was hard and flat about your room
gave way to formlessness: the flabby lips of
hold-alls swallowing each other. Portering,
I knocked, to mute a smoke-alarm, and though
you let me in — halfway — you let me in on

nothing. Your slow nun’s face was clear,
despite the background flow of little clouds.
And this was how I knew you: outside-in —
your look of mission, your daily marches,
with backpack full and three bags in each hand,
as a star in an overlooked part of the sky
might be remembered by the Roman Empire.