Still life


year: 2008


I once had to give a semen sample in a grubby London hospital room. Never again.

With cock in hand - limp,
distinctly unimpressed –
we’re under starter’s orders.
Thick-set men check watches
Just a door’s breadth away,
cough noisily on office chairs,
spit Britishly in awkward banter
“up the arse ‘n’ all!” as they await
their turn to let loose fate
in strip-lit, spare ‘production rooms’.

How I love the world of doctors’ jargon!
Every dirty, febrile verb and phoneme
Disinfected, stripped, fully
Cleansed from contagion
Brought in on feral, salty tongues;
And once sterilised,
Distilled into a little labelled vial,
squeaky clean enough for
focus groups of multi-cultured bigots
and our heroes’ line in witty bedside charm.

Base, semantic smut is strictly not permitted
in the cradle of fertility, the Jerusalem of jizz,
the spunk Mecca of every colour, faith and creed.

But deep in each production room,
Amid the florid niceties
Of dotted Is and cups of tea,
A killer blow, disconsonant, awaits the naive.

Discreetly in the corner
As you enter, on the right
Is the Plastic Box of Trauma –
gurning fists of craven fetish –
Readers’ Wives, Obese Babes, Over 45s:
jaded pages stuck together,
wretched flesh as crumpled trigger,
bitter annals of sarcastic,
grating, mocking, absent grins.

Were Onan’s luv-er-ly assistants
bought by a registrar on lunch break
in a job lot off a website?

Or collected in brown paper
In a hospital whip round?

Were they volunteer donations
From a bleeding hearted public,
Procured from the proceeds
Of a 25K run?

Did the line manager personally sign off

These distractions won’t help now.
At long last, my retching eyes,
with superhuman focus, conspire
to fake engagement long enough
to force my weeping dignity
to spineless, sputtering life.
Matter over mind. Then run.

Hours later, when humiliation’s
wet brush has crusted over,
Only an aching, nagging throb
Serves to remind me of the fact that
I have spilled myself,
A tiny death,
heart and soul into a jar for thawing years forward
In my absence.
If only I could take instead
and bank on ice this gnawing.
That night I see my motile self
As still life.