Alistair Noon: Guerillistan
Far from the regions in ruins,
the retreats and fire-fights,
the sentries under bare lights
draped by urgent spiders,
the rails run on to the horizon.
My breath stays shallow,
my tendons don’t tighten
when a low-floored, noise-reduced tram
gleams round a corner on time.
The nocturnal documentaries
repeat their routes, like flies,
but the reports are defused mines:
I never dream of a truck in flames.
Bassan, the cirrus looks
like a ceiling for an airbus,
for its midrib and veins.
The cumuli march, the backs
of their heads in shadow,
a bright light on their faces.
Did you fly to Amman,
to bump eastwards by coach?
Is your wife extracting wisdom teeth?
Have they published your research
into water at high altitudes?
The door is slow as it slides
to the outside. What comments
do you have on the weather events,
the peanut butter sandwiches
snowing onto peasants?
Mohammed, the glass is thick
that makes a city into sky.
For ten months, you laughed
from the upper circle
at the faces of the Lost
in the delta of arrivals.
Outside, the upward throttle
of leaves. You played chess
in a transnational mall, cadged
phrases from the language
beyond passport control.
Can you see the Armed Men?
Where’s your sleeping bag unrolled?
Are you listening in Freetown
to night gunfire again?
I was thinking of Thebes.
No place to debate with friends
what justice might mean
then pass your wives and workers
as you climb to the vote,
nor order with informants
and a deficit of consumer goods,
but where travellers die for their name,
and frenzy dismembers the young.
The Chinooks flock across it.
An evolutionary advantage not to pause
on plane surfaces, but rest in corners,
of the Atlas of World History, say.
Once, the wings of a wasp
struck up billows of dust
on my wardrobe-top,
a helicopter landing on the Kush.
Wherever I moved, it found
no windows I opened.
This is my stop.
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