BY MIKE KEENAN
Copyright is held by the author.
Ten years old and ill?prepared for sodomy,
the frantic blitzkrieg of municipal planners,
family assisters, pedophilic churchmen —
an absurd Gregorian chant — like Jonah swallowed whole,
I endure the entrails of a barbaric five?year siege
in cell 510, Sackville Street, dead centre of the storm.
Compressed layers of nausea, tower of ruptured screams,
a squalid elevator ride in hell. The walls bear carved expletives —
reckless revolt, punctuated with congealed spittle.
My rite of passage — two stairwells for escape —
to carefully weigh, then traverse with reckless speed
for lurking inside each concrete coffin was Surprise!
Darkly sinister, tangible as sticky blood —
a vagrant, cocooned in vomit, obstructs my way —
else the sweet romance of scientific lovers,
who perform tactile experiments with nicotine?stained
instruments of lacquered tongue and probe.
Chance direction! Smash the metallic seal,
whose booming bar reverberates —
a throbbing pulse of dread as heavy steps
outpace ambush or delay, jump?thundering —
in giant leaps from top to bottom landing
five steps at once — accelerating loud descent,
roaring propaganda — Speed! Noise! Fear!
Heed my avalanche! Catch me if you can
lunging Shepherd, snapping Doberman,
flight’s psychic guard?dogs.
I gulp the revolting stench of writhing cockroach
and silver?fish extermination — fellow lodgers limping blindly,
antennae quivering, engulfed in a toxic cocktail of lingering decay,
shadow?image of Jewish boxcars, doomed vehicles,
shunted into the black hole of night.
To survive, I stumble into a surreal void —
the stark playground of wolves, nocturnal entities
that sniff and howl, concoct bloody stratagems,
sanctify the earth with urinary rites and inflict
mean justice on those who defile their sacred turf.
Too puppyish for the pack, I regress into subterranean depths,
and with a rubber ball, practise the tedium of submersion
amidst concrete walls and caged storage vaults
near the dimly lit and dangerous laundry room
where there is purification but also bestial rape.
In the morning gloom through the narrow maze
of garbage?strewn Regent, Shuter and Treffan,
we limp in catatonic cadence to St. Paul’s School for pugilists,
menaced by the proficient few with pointed shoes and knuckled fists,
augmented by wood and rock, misanthropic missiles
that rip fabric — puncture flesh.
Daily welcomed by a skinny, stuttering gate-man ? B?B?B?B?ill,
his moronic litany: “You wanna g?g?g?go?”
with void, retarded look.
I run this gauntlet daily amidst my bestial kin,
loathsome refugees, zoo?like, classically conditioned
to snarl and snap and bite for minimal advantage
a wayward scrap or crumb — insects, squirming
inside a monstrous pitcher plant, absorbing our pitiful protein.
Our school’s cinders — a war zone, violent theatre?of?the?absurd,
framed by a tanning factory spewing mucous membrane mayhem,
an olfactory struggle to survive the delicate aroma of mucilage,
from the frothy rot of carcass that baptizes our playground.
Often, two antagonists who might otherwise stand clear —
betrayed by frenzied comrades, fixed like glue,
caught in a thickened circle of fickle fans, recklessly lured
like deep?sea predators to a frenzied feast.
No escape from the red?warm blood.
Assaults delivered: rapid, precise —
fashioned to tear tissue near desperate eyes.
Sharp kicks to the groin — one hit will end debate
as the intoxicated circle sways with maddened roar,
screaming reckless oaths until a victor stands alone
to administer cursory kicks as the victim crawls
to an alcove of respite. Then, like their sudden arrival,
the spectators disperse — a slight, sugary surge until
the next spectacle of Rome.
I watch with intuitive dread of a soon?to?come marquee
listing doomed gladiators trapped inside that mess
of cancer cells. Dear God, please save me!
I pray earnestly and immerse myself in skate and blade
and ball and bat, every minute of each season busy
and complete in sport’s catholic retreat.
My apprentice imagination turns everything to shadow —
a murky mixture of malevolence, the dark and secret recipe
of a force?fed adolescence shaping and deforming me into
Bigger! Bolder! Meaner! a puffed?up blow-fish
assuming magnitude, indigestible, unworthy of defeat.
I metamorphasize to jagged rock no creature would dare rub against
least of all, attack. My giddy growth — a deranged video game,
perplexed and faulty circuits, a screen that jumps and recoils
in crazed, electric spasms.
Behold, the warrior king — ferocious,
first to attack, never to trust. Opponents dispatched
ruthlessly — no mercy granted.
My wounds internal, bruised deep
inflicting an insomnia of hurt.
Three long decades have come and gone
yet the squalor of the slumlord fast remains.
Five years of internment, and still waiting for a key
to unlock my rusted chains.
I wear you like a drunken sailor hauls a crass tattoo —
your biting needle invades my flesh —
cold — dye?stamped,
indelible — your brick barracks’ symmetry
an architect of merciless memory —