One Year On
by David Erdos, with image by Paulette Parker
Birds wake me to sing a mutant song for us. Unusual for them,
This stung chorus catches wracked power as well as the pitch
That’s been rising even as we all fall far from shape. It has been
One year today in which zoom and zoo have reframed us,
And thus, we have prowled, part bewildered in some form
Of slow return to the ape. We need Sir David Attenborough
To live long and present or re-introduce our next habits,
For as in Brecht’s In the Jungle of Cities, the citizens survey
The fouled streets, which loll like slack mouths having been
Punched and made toothless as the bite of the economy loosened
And the limpest of licks dabbed at meat. So many juices run dry!
So many bodies stopped! So much anger! So many lost lions roaring
As they struggled to roam ruined plains. Both beast and burden
Aligned as we took on the glare of kept Leopards; with our motion
Blocked, amputation still stalled our progress even if each limb
From four was retained. Instead, we became those we cooked,
Or those whom we watched through Sir David; eyeing each detail
While forgetting the former shape of ourselves. We lost pride
And gained pot, over which we obsessed, spending for it.
Instead of pleasure, leisure and culture, the buying of food
Became hobby, as we exchanged stage and sportsground
For the Universe around kitchen shelves. How will we feel
Once released, about our homes shaped as Prisons?
Will those precious walls and shelves lose their meaning
As we strain for freedom and strive like our animal kind
For the wild? For, as has been seen, Mankind is unkind
To the figures and flesh of the forest. As we hunt and coat
Them in plastic their long hold on wisdom has made our grasping
At life like a child’s, who knows nothing and won’t without
The will to discover what has gone on: as for instance, for what
Reason has this particular time become war? And an Uncivil
One, too, come to that, alongside Trump’s tearing of the flag
To mop bloodstains, or, the numerous bastards of Brexit
And the bitches too, whose guffaw at the need to belong
To a clearly corrupt but nevertheless working system, kept us
At least bound together as this warp in the wind forged a split
Between the world we all want and the one we’ve created;
Two very different things, let’s be certain: Has the control
We’d exert truly slipped? For now so many people forget who
They were and have allowed the ignorant to form answers,
In which Remedial level instruction was quickly dishonoured
By the Hell headed evil of Dominic’s goings and comings
Alongside the despicable actions of the sow for whom seeds
Would wither, the disgusting, uncaring and regardless of feature,
Unpriti Patel. Who has brought shame on both creed and race
With a year of numbed statements, from her fouled fantasy
Of an immigrant’s island to the need to stop protest and crowds
Atttending Sarah Everard’s Funeral. I do not single her out,
As I have, from a sense of personal vindication, but simply
Because I cannot believe how such people are allowed to rise
And go on. With Trump’s fat fruit impeached twice, what point
Over there to impeachment? Would Nixon today have won
Through and wriggled, as Bill Clinton blew sex and Sax also
In order to re-sing love’s last song? Where The Devil are we?
I’m lost. Are you, as well, if you listen? Lost in Living rooms,
Kitchens, lounges and bedrooms too, as you read
About the dearth and the day getting worse, or the marks
On your loved one’s body. At least what has happened
On pillows has put a positive spin within sheets.
For we mustn’t forget that this Lockdown Year has brought
Babies in an almost Catholic style frenzy as each sad death
Was replaced. Yet still, domestic abuse burst like blooms
And colour stung bruises on victims, while others chased
Pastimes that their former working world would not lease.
And so, the balances burn. Or so it seems to me as I write this.
Businesses fold. Friendship creases as misunderstandings,
Like money gain - or in terms of people - lose interest. Some
Have learnt new languages or become Olympic across their small
Gardens. Time is marked and made to discover the secret self.
Loss invests. People make time as time stops, and can catch
Their breath as its challenged. So much so that masks seal them,
Like the lid on a homemade jar of jam. Of which there must be
So many by now, so as to feed the sweet craving soured mouths
Of all nations, as we in turn ache for comfort, either through
The fuel and food of a lover, or the touch lost to many
Of their too soon departed and their still felt and dreamt
Ghosted hands. The former Rat Race has been run, so we must
Learn to walk once more, not as rodents. Or, as a puppet might,
Stretched, or limpid, and subject of course to dark strings,
Of which we glimpse less than a side of sleeve, or, long shadow.
For we do not know who’s still playing, or, moving us about
As fate stings. Perhaps this is just a vaccum of sorts, as the vaccine
Creates vortex. And just like Astronauts in the astral we now approach
The black hole, through which we chase Kubrick’s key twenty years on
From his title, and my own lifetime from filming as we try to chart
A further path for the soul. Where will we be one year on? Stuck inside
This constant parade of reprisals? Or already stacked and camped
Cleanly as a jackboot designs fashion’s shift? Or, will we all work
From homes as defined states and nations; from the county of David,
To the region you’re in, this word gift. My little street broadcasts out
As we all create our own station. Today, friends are filming, while others
Wait overseas. Shaifta smiles in her sleep, sweetly fixing on the good
That can happen. Roger rehearses a play and builds kitchens while
He waits for his business light to go green. The possible mirth
And mar mix in the still empty cities however. Why will Employers
Continue to pay for buildings if their employees can now work
From home? Those ransacked offices could well become rotten teeth
In a voiceless void of damned districts, which while they once hummed
Are now silenced as the sunk spaces jar like scraped bone? In the Ballardian
Scream the future symphony achieves structure. The jab makes us cyborgs
Servants of state: a world brand, in which the souls sold with the one
Percent’s shady dealings see us all steamed, as smoke rises in some
Frightening echo of those chaos chambers that Shickelfuckingruber
Once planned. Who knows? Who can say? Poetry asks certain questions.
And if the answers exist they do solely in a tongue and taint few can read.
And so we Winston away, wordsmiths like him in kept corners. Watchful
No doubt for O’Brien and for where Julia’s Judas kiss may yet lead.
George Orwell’s 1984 came and stayed. In 2021 there’s Fakenewspeak.
But in which and whose quarters will the lovers regroup to resist?
Perhaps in this year and across these double century pieces,
I have been looking for love in past places, and to try and involve you
In this: for my struggle is yours. As yours is mine, the world over.
The Peoples Prison is progress in terms of either capture and calm,
And cast bliss. The Covidian Age was not Bronze, or ice, or stone.
It was water. Passed in piss and tears of sweat, distress, effort
And if you wish to pray, those of joy. This David’s Covid’s untouched.
I have not been ill. I am grateful. And yet I cry and seek the cure
Of my Mother and even at this age now, am a boy,
Searching for home, even while caged within it. I sit staring out
Through this writing as the only effective means I employ.
To reach you, or teach in my own small way the main lesson.
But perhaps the best expression’s unwritten. Perhaps, if I’m honest,
The best lesson of all stays untaught. After one year of this, or,
At least in this country what have I learned? That life’s broken,
And that, if we’re mindful we can repair it all with a thought.
We just have to have the same one and say it at once altogether.
For only then, we’ll find freedom and only then, open doors.
This will not be my last word, I know. But in the scale of fame today
I am Limescale; something to be scraped from scrawl and discovered
Once the ruins are read years from now. At a time in which I may
Become Heiroglyphs, or, cyber print on tombed laptops, and where
A partly heard whisper across a miasmic air is allowed.
For it may distort, yet contain a brief whisp of tune, or splutter
Of algorhymed wisdom, in which the pains we have suffered will tell
The far future how it can finally heal the now. One year on.
Then one more. One Era on. Or one Aeon, stars glaze our surface
As what we were is won and wept across cloud. Should God hear
These words may that alien throne start to glisten. Across this space
And shape I reach for it. May such grace light our losses. I can only hope
In this writing that I have made my dead heroes and my passed parents too,
Duly proud. And yet man has handed ‘misery to man,’ as Larkin’s
‘coastal shelf’ seemed to deepen. So, may we all start to swim from it,
And may those stars as sea breed new life. This one has certainly been
Compromised, but we can prise promise for it. Play and read this, please.
Then make music. As you start to speak from your silence, the birds
May receive us and the joint chorale we’re all part of will learn
To sing once more.
Let’s dream, loud.