of this concave city, I will underwrite
your hand-scribed manual of confidence-tricks,
imported unnamed tins
of warpaint ‘sunset blue’, or whatever
Ponzi scheme the papilla
of your charisma might issue. Being providential,
your pince-nez was preserved
against the cataracts and hurricanoes ramming
against what, I’m afraid, has been downgraded to a wig-wam;
but that’s probably just today talking. Tomorrow,
or the next day, or whenever we’re free,
we might gift you
an oasis diadem in gratitude
for your lifetime, and pen thirteen juicy
zebu in a tomb of gingko trees
to enshrine the legacy, known by all
to be worth the love of sustained labour. It will be official,
then unofficial. And vice versa, of course,
or even something worse. This garden, say, that currently bears
the name of some pale vessel of Paul
has a rosy fragrance, and benefits from transparent walls.
The brochure says at dusk vast
clouds of green butterfly scuttelate
the green air; plus it’s patrolled
24/7 by liquorice-smoking heavies dressed
in ill-fitting zoot suits. If you can’t mask your concern
that your quarters will be ransacked
while you doze, we advise you speak to the resident pescatarian,
who come rain or shine
will yammer with anyone with a smattering of Greek or Russian
about anything parched under the sun.
He’s pleasant enough as long as you don’t, under any circumstances,
ask if something might not change, or, worse,
require something to stay the same. If your shellacked
throat makes breathing laboured,
orderlies in pressed uniforms will be there
at the press of this white button. They
are trained not to look you straight in the eye.
They will check with a spirit-level
if the bed’s as flat as you say.
I can guarantee that something happens almost every day.
Remember, things will never be as bad you say.
Regardless of public holidays,
funerals of loved ones, or the arrival of the circus,
I want you to be assured
of the fact that, under no circumstance,
will any of you ever be left alone.