Bad Form

punish it
for being so unruly
discipline it
if it won’t be quiet in the middle of the night
teach it
that a rule is a rule is a rule
cut it
when it doesn’t fit
hide it
for being so plain to look at
deny it
a home among the better forms
demonise it
as ‘the rotten apple that spoil it for the rest of us’
reprogramme it
into an appropriate and functional model
categorise it
so it knows where it belongs
publicise it
as something ‘extraordinary’ and ‘new’
sell it
at a suitable profit
repeat it
until the market has been saturated
kill it
if you really want it dead

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The magi descend out of the clouds,
The orderly receives the casket.

 What is in the box so carefully wrapped?
Sweet meats,
The heart of a little boy
     to keep a little girl alive.
A cross for an ID
To carry all her days,
Reminding her
     when she twists the ring on her finger,
He is here
Whispering in her heart -
      “It’s not fair
       that you manipulate me thus.”
But the gift has been
And the magi go.

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Skogsrå (Wood Nymph)


Jan-Litt worked as a charcoal-burner
(“Litt” because he was a little man).
He was used to boredom: he watched coal for a living,
was the enemy of every kind of fire,
lived in a wood hutch staked out by an infinity of Swedish trees.
Numb with tedium, he had taken time out
for nineteenth-century day-dreams,
for a swig of corn-brandy.
Like a fantasy, out of green forest haze,
the wood nymph slid, dressed
in the body of a woman wearing “fine long hair”,
chill eyes wide with another species’ feeling.
Jan-Litt offered her the bottle —
was he stunned into hospitality
or did he rise in the presence of this stark, naked creature

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