I’ve mentioned before that all of my early poems were thrown out in a house move in 1976 – they were in a black bag which was mistaken for rubbish (probably was, in fact). However, a copy of one of these ancient poems turned up in the 1980s, and I know I revised it then – probably to its detriment. Be that as it may, I looked at it the other day, and thought I’d post it. It was written in 1964, when I was living in a room in Garnethill Street, Glasgow – a street now demolished. It was cold, often foggy, and the area was, shall we say, very busy at night.
Rat’s droppings in a pool of melted butter;
the scutter of claws in a kitchen;
a liquid moves in the field of vision –
yellow – a note from a higher, dog-ear register;
quiet splashings, a splutter, spit.
He has become the dis-ease –
his-self the symptom.
Tighter and tenser his skin seems,
scanned, the spidery network
in a hatchling’s shell.
His husk echoes in an empty hall;
a speck in the struggle
from Divine down;
his mind a blown cavity, a dead-eye socket.
Across the street some-
is crying loudly – perhaps a drunken mourn,
and a taxi rattles the late-night windows.
The rat gnaws closer now,
and each new night
some dark flower beats,
as sleep falls with the thickening fog and frost.