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Mark Ford




Using the heel
Of either hand, how I’d like to knock-
Knock-knock-knock some raw, devil-may-care
Spirit into the echoing chambers
Of the brain. Around
My cranium the churned-
Up air falls still, is hushed, save
Where the weak-eyed bat, with short
Shrill shriek
Flits by on leathern wing, tiny against the violet
Evening sky, or a scything blur
Across the twisted boughs and the white, waxy flowers
Of the frangipani trees.
Meanwhile, a blast
Of Sheltox
Dispatches another cockroach – it flips
Over twice, and its legs
Stop moving; its shiny brown shell, now beaded with poison, looks
Like a chain-smoker’s nail. Through
A drifting mist of insecticide I hover
And roam, index finger
On the trigger, until the bitter fumes fade, and my interest
In killing what Sheltox kills
Fades… Relax
O muscles, in arms, neck, eyes and face – cast
Out remorse for this and other
Fits that wrench, wrench
And squeeze, squeeze and catch
In the throat. Let no man
Squirrel away what he owns, or thinks he owns, nor, ill
At ease in his own skin, swallow fire and so
Burn inwardly. As a fly

MARK FORD has published several volumes of poetry and is the author of the critical biography Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and London Review of Books; he teaches in the English department at University College, London.

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