Like a vast army of gentle tribesmen,
I feel little pins and needles
Dance up the pole of my forearm
From the long fingers to the crankly
Elbow to the humerus and the
Right up to my neck and to the nape
Of it, where my hair ends in little
Prehistoric pedicles of ungroomed growth,
More akin to primates,
Down my back this hair,
This lovely down, this crest of
Awesome fur to terrorize the enemies
Of the pack
And crestfallen I watch,
If at all possible, I watch
The outcome of my ancestry crawl
Up and down my back
Like a jester of times past,
When you had to fight for the day
And the night,
You had to fight for another few weeks
Of bondage in the hands of nature,
O we are such a fearsome race
And all our remaining hairs are
Scarce memory,
Faint memory of all that has gone
Of all the feral carnage,
The bloodbath, the terrific embraces,
The blunt instruments and the eyes,
Always the eyes meandering
Across the fortifications of countless
Spelling out doom,
Eyeing the battlements,
Sizing up the task at hand, when
The liquid fire would be unleashed –
Death had advanced now to catch
Up with our savagery,
No longer in the cave with the
No longer an ideal death among
Ideal death-fellows walking down
The aisle,
But now a death altogether more
No less sinister but more concrete,
More opaque
Less yielding to the eye,
No longer in the cave
But out in the open, in broad daylight
Blocking out the sun,
Silhouetting against it, plotting,
Unraveling, conspiring to seize the
Days off this sun and to give
O give so many little tragedies
To all that would care to follow its
Otherwise heartless,
Not interested in real numbers
Not interested in their roots or
Imaginary counterparts
Only proceeding by rote
In a listless sort of lulling
Great narcotic this death by
Great pacifier, to count the skulls
And bless your ancestral gods,
Laugh off the uninhabitable fear
And the coldness,
Look up to the fenestella,
To the stars creeping towards you
You were no savage
You were king and feoffor,
Patron of the arts,
Formidable warrior in fine brocade,
You had founded banks and
Erected Davids
And chiseled out an imperial
Profile and a rusticated existence
Of refined valour and urbane cruelty,
You were the founder of cities,
The foundry of base metal,
The chieftain of unrequited
You the prime vassal,
The assailer of beauteous pageants
And the ruler of unruly passions,
So many women at your feet and
Between them
So many times four-legged
But not of the caves
But of the cavities of one’s
Lusty appetites,
Cavitating inwards
Towards the merril,
Feeling the loins of your
Pulse thrusting forward,
To sting and sting again
Kill all and then
Perform the ultimate act of
Make love to earn love
Earn love and put it aside,
Set up a current account or
To profit from all the love,
All the pillaged love that was
Given first-hand,
Unyielding admiration and
Zest, to partake of the conquest,
How barbaric can this be,
How tribal,
How many men can eschew it,
Men who grow a fine mane of hair
And put on their helmets and
Ride into the stormcloud,
Commanding the opacities of the sky,
The compass and the gyroscope at
Their disposal,
This is no savagery
This is discovery and exploration
And leadership
Men are there to perform it,
To give it flesh and bones,
To give it thrust
To majestize it,
O and to sing it at the top of
Their chest-voices
Like a dense choir of
Fallen angels
At daybreak.

I get up
By reflex action.
I put the kettle on.
Nothing feels better
Than a clean shave in
The morning.
I shave.