After-Dinner Address


By Jonathan Taylor Davies

Every face is a face I have first dreamed,
I have to dream a human face,
for it to land on a human head,
and anyone whose face I haven’t dreamed
is a blank husk,
which means I’m probably God.

I,
God,
am not an arrogant man,
and I won’t hear a bunch of
husks say otherwise.

If not God,
then I am
(when I dream)
an artist tyrant,
the ubermensch,
the king of a parchment castle
drawn up on hardwood tables
by architects with
blue paper and red ink.

Every single architect in the world has a goatee,
but I have a moustache because
I am a room,
filled entirely with velvet bags of gold,
and a second room,
with layered oaky hues,
where endless rows of tweed jackets
hang like trophies
above the mantel,
and the best book ever written
smokes a pipe,
pages crossed with calm repose
on its plush divan,
and reads itself forever.

Where I walk there is rapturous applause
and banners are raised,

fact.

But,
if not the superman,
then I am
(when I dream)
an artisan peasant,
the everyman,
the under man,
the king of a house that’s colder in winter,
built from blackened brick,
once red clay.

It sits inn a ring of infinite houses
which look entirely the same,
lived in by finite men,
endlessly scattered
in row upon concentric row,
of house upon identical house,
around the castle on the hill.

All builders look the same.

I am a builder,
scratching his chin,
irritating lumpy patches
of flaking pink skin,
because aftershave is gay,
except the cheap stuff,
which I brandish like an erection.

Erections are like cutting into an onion
in a room with no windows,
when your extractor fan is broken.

I like football the normal amount,
especially one of the famous teams,
and care about Steven Gerrard
more than the normal amount,
I don’t have a signed Steven Gerrard ball,
but I do have a shirt,
unsigned,
on him,
in the garage

(I keep him there because
his blocky head makes me think of Rome)

I,
a barbarian,
decked in high vis war paint,
neon-green berserker,
and Steven Gerrard,
a Visigoth if I ever saw one,
will sack Rome.

We will storm the man on the hill,
climb the gates of the castle
with just the numbers on our backs,
muddied laces tied tight around tired feet,
for glory,

for England,

for the stubble on my chin
which grows not as the English rose
in fields of green,
but absently as sharp as that
which grows on no man for no reason
better than pennies spent on pints
while the razor sits blunt,
unfamiliar weight in familiar hand

(my builder’s hand)

though with that hand
and that razor
I will raze Rome to the ground,
in the vain hope that Jerusalem
will grow from the ashes,
to be nurtured by Steven Gerrard,
who will walk Jerusalem’s streets,
arms outstretched,
brandishing twin cans of tin,
peppered holes atop buckled metal stems,
the man who brings the rain

(Emile Heskey will bring the after-dinner address)

for Rome will fall when I am tired of
walking to muted praise
and raising banners for men
who taste like smooth whiskey and Cuban cigars,

this is proven
and virtuous.

But,
if not the everyman,
and if not the overman,
then I am
(when I dream)
no man,
a husk,
the amount of steady camera work
in “The Bourne Supremacy”,
there’s really no excuse,
Paul Greengrass,
director of “The Bourne Supremacy”:
I am the number of excuses that you have.

I’m the king of nowhere;
nowhere is a city,
built from glass and stone with
fractal streets,
walked by fractal men
in solemn unison,
marching under grey light
which reflects greyly between
grey mirrors lining
grey buildings that seem impossibly high
for buildings that couldn’t possibly
have been built by anyone.

Three thieves stand by three trees
on a hill that is three hills tall
three times as big as the average hill,
I know,
I have the data;
each thief is exactly the height
of the average thief,
were there to be such a thing
as an average thief,
which there is,
I have the data.

The hill,
all three of it,
is a three day walk
from the city,
from everywhere in the city,
it is precisely and accidentally
equidistant to every calculable
coordinate of space,
in every possible nook or cranny
of the city where space could
reasonably be expected to occupy,
of which there is exactly one.

The path from the city to the hill
is lined with petals and doves,
it’s where the city keeps love,
set aside for such a time
as it might have some use for it.

I can no more make out the details of
of the figures on the hill
than I can the blank wall next to me
the same as the wall that will be next to me
and the wall that was
neither of which are or were next
to anything
neither I nor they
nor the man on the hill
the man in the middle;
I can see nothing but that he is there
nothing but the whites of his eyes
which are everywhere in nowhere

I videre in crucem.
In crucem est deo.

Deo est nihilo.
Deo ego sum.

God is nothing,
I am God.

God,
who am me,
which art in heaven:

please build an English Garden
from mounds of dirt,
I will plant roses there,
soft beds of thorns and red
stretching for miles,
carefully pruned by careless hands,
walked by carefree boots,
studded and laced,
a somewhere place
growing in a nowhere land;

somewhere for the English football team to retire

those gardeners,
those empty men,
please, God,
fill their hearts with petals
and pinches of fresh earth,
the heady dirt that birthed
the first rose on English soil.

Thine is the kingdom,
the flower,
and the story,
for ever and ever,

I have never dreamed my own face,

Amen.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “After-Dinner Address

  1. Interesting imagery and you get a bonus point for somehow getting Emile Heskey in there…could be a first in the world of poetry?

    Only possible downside for me was the ending, (and I say ‘possible’ because it’s not necessarily a negative when the final scene is predictable.

    “I have never dreamed my own face” – saw that one coming from line 4!

    I’ll read it again in a few days.

    Like

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