Twelfth Man

Stadia empty,
Thousands of seats,
Just like Maymana’s,
They hanged
Oppositions by
The skin of
Their teeth.
Bleachers for ghosts,
Capitalists disrobed,
Revealing themselves,
En masse opportunists
Inadvertantly proving
Forks in their mouths.
They used to say
Your lungs must swell
With tribal songs,
Partisan songs,
Forgotten origins,
Often abusive,
Made bold by a throng;
If you could buy
Magazines on matchday
That would certainly help
The eleven along.

When your team’s
In trouble, you’re a
Wind at their backs,
Oxygen as thick
As an Aeolian god’s
In their muscles.
They said ‘you are
The difference’,
Fine margins, they said,
Alongside dietary carbon,
Training regimes
And abstinence;
We created the seams,
Winnings and loss,
They would have you
Treat brothers
As starving stray dogs
If this prevented
A punt or a shot.

Artificial sounds
Abound around
The groundsman’s turf,
A theory from executives
No less, God Bless,
Who should have greater
Concerns to consider
Than how audiences
With flexible payment
Plans, glued at home,
Might feel more at ease
And comfortable, more
Palatable, like watching
A weather forecast
Before hangings
With popcorn.

Teams do not need
A twelfth man
When a crowd can
Be appropriated.
It’s another illusion,
Another corporate
Wolf disguised by
Their own myths;
They’ve taken all
Life’s purities,
Alchemied to
Monied dross.

Recordings of crowds!
Dictators do something
Similar, and photoshop
Inaugural scenes of
Huge adoring numbers,
Thin as a toupe turned
As thick as my hair in
Sixteen weeks
Of pandemic.
Recordings yes,
From before the
Outbreak,
Delirium, for a ball
In a net or between
Two sticks
They did not see
By eleven men
They had not met.

So if I extend this
Principle as only
Poets are able,
What else are we told
In this abstract
Lonely world must
Make a difference,
(Until we thrust and
Pour our pennies and
Our hopes down the
Open throats of those
Made rich by our
Poverty of thought,
Of those constructs
We would have worn
A shirt for, would
Vote in their flags
And sworn allegiance,
Would sometimes see
Our sons die before
Their cause, buried in a
Small and unkempt
Cemetery on the hill
Behind our village;
And yet, when all’s
Peeled back like
A dead girl’s eyelids,
Sometimes with time,
Sometimes by cynics,
Stripped, laid bare,
Rabbits dressed as hares
With nothing significant
In their stomachs),
But which instead
Mattered not once
Through heaven’s
Grafted hours
Nor the grace of
Earthly minutes.

The Postman Always Knocks Thrice

A postman’s signature
Knock, three raps
And then another,
On the doorstep
A parcel’s born
And the coffee mugs
We ordered have arrived.
Underwhelming gift,
Little porcelain
Counter-intuitive
Surprises unsurprising,
For their smaller size,
With William Morris
Designs also seen on
Wallpapers, on rugs,
Are purposeful
Only for espressos,
Yet portrayed online
As substantial mugs.

With a greater global
Population, and less cocoa
Germination in Ghana
And the Ivory Coast,
Chocolate bars are half
The length they used to be,
Or even a third, in 1985,
Yet with the expense
Aligned to inflation
A hidden cost is greater.
They think we have not
Noticed, nor the momemt
When one day there may also
Be less milk in a pint.

Board games too, observed;
We played a game just
Yesterday where the stage
Back in the day felt
Expansive, with nuances
And details now long-lost,
Like ancient adverbs
In etymologies. And so
It is the same with politics,
A contraction and reduction
Of facts and elements
That seemed before to matter;
Was there ever a fabric
Of truth? And technologies
Engender a similar impact
On relationships and
Workplaces and families
And finances as everything
Condenses in to the will
Of a small belligerent
Minority, stars and planets
Swallowed fully into
Unforgiving black holes
Fuelled by testosterone.

The only advantage to me
Is if mid-passion you’d turn
In our near dotage
Cupping my wrinkled face
To say it’s not what it was Nick,
But seems a great deal less,
While robo-postmen
Knock three times downstairs
With smaller parcels again,
Commercialism minimising
Like inner Matryoshka dolls,
I would say definitively
Darling, nothing is the same
As when first we fell in love.