Gone today, here tomorrow
I'm a poet of various styles
that can be any length and my age has no limit
and I'd like to talk to you today about crime
schemes and whether or not they cause
poetic justice. Everyone's the name,
just about everything is my business. "Is this
just?" and"Is it a crime?" are not questions I'm
often prey to, but I'll investigate anything
I'm asked to, given that my reports are what
pay, in a manner of speaking, or not,
Not so long ago, whilst
totalling up the data in my inner sanctimonium,
Icame across a strange case containing what appeared to be
amind intending, but caught in the act and trapped there.
Seems the perp, known only as "the boy", had
committed to paper what the press called a poem
that verballed, victimised and otherwise mauled
his dumb, bullet-headed friends. Its wording
indicated clearly what might have been the poet's
intention: he could, he wrote, take a gun to the fools.
"A student frightened by the poem notified a teacher,
who called the police. The boy, now 18, was arrested
the next day and expelled from Santa
Teresa High School."
I was in several minds about this.
My first impression, that the snitch had been arrested,
was erroneous, as was its unfortunate implication-
that the court, in legitimate cahoots with the cops,
had cleverly stepped on a nark. Good riddance.
But something else taunted me about this story. I was
haunted by it, and mocked too-by the righteous reader,
the victorless crime, the hell-bent writer intent on
delivering justice-having often read their rights
to people whose verse is at best just criminal. "For I am
Dark, Destructive & Dangerous," he said. It was sad to see
the poor kid go, as he did, berko with a machete-figuratively
speaking. He was a tall-order cook of the short variety,
specialising in hatchet jobs on sonnets
Doomed to curiosity and prompted
by an ingratiating sense of civic duty, I decided to pay him a visit.
He told me it wasn't enough, I'd have to pay double if I wanted
information, so I went back the next day. Suspecting him
right from the start of not really being the perp from the paper,
Itold him I'd mislaid something and stumbled around him
looking for clues to the pained, muzzled expression he wore
in the words he used and their component parts,
the disavowed constants, the sibylline babble
his poem seemed to me to presuppose. "There are
only two kinds of people in the world, and you
arenot one," I continued as he demurred, deferred,
departed from and otherwise deconstructed a response
that made me nostalgic for my own beginings, when I
was just innuendo.The way he'd interrupt himself
even when no-one was speaking bugged me,
but I didn't realise that at the time. Years later,
he'd play me the tape-and there I was
and here we are and never the twain shall meet. And yet
his mouth opened and closed on his complete works impromptu.
"It's all about locating people. Simply by typing you can become
better acquainted, and if there is a camera you can take
morepictures. This is a really good old map:
Pittenweem with a blue dot."
We set out the following day
in hot pursuit of the golden rule-time doesn't pay-
and having arrived at our destination pronto, set attendants
painfully set about reconstructing the scene of the crime:
the blackened page, the blooded ink, the hey presto
"Something beyond us this way comes!" my perp
suggested correctly. But it was a clause acknowledging
the great Begone that greets each one of us who spoke. Where
was I, and at what point did it matter? Is the protagonist the
brains behind the plot, as some have suggested, or is the actor
simply a window onto the larger world of minders and
decision-makers, real people who give the narrative
substance, get-up-and-go? I didn't know
who they were or what they wanted, or why their names
and identities had been changed as if to petrify the innocent.
Yet I felt compelled to accept their story, that the big hand
leads to what the little guy swallows-a commander in chief
petty officer's clothing-and none but I can blame him for it.
But the cost involved was an unsolved puzzle. My perp wrote it
down as a business expense, then up again as a novella
in which his plot succeeded, as foretold.
At that point
"things" came quickly to a "head". The sound of something
tapping clicked blindly into place: it was the justice system
"exploding"the "myth"-for the way things turn out
is always justly as the grog-eyed mob intends.
But the perp didn't mind, he enjoyed the publicity,
and wrote me a note in support of the cause
I'dnot yet forgotten about. "Having been performed,
Ican now be released." It was signed yours truly,
As for that cause I spoke of-well,
effects queens surround us, and they're all special, especially
you, who areme personified and counting. It's in the hands of
the terrified reader, however, as to whether the announcement
amounts to something. Is it a law unto itself? Is it a just
pause between collectiveyawning and the great outdoors?
The after-effect, dear centralised intelligence, is doodles,
spare rhyme schemes, blips, and what we were as we
rushed toward it: wishful thinking, if that's
the right word, though officially
it never is.
- Chris Edwars 'Gone today, here tomorrow'