2018-12-08

An Infinite Regress

Let's talk about two everyday phrases...

The title of this is also the title of an episode of StarTrek Voyager, this has nothing to do with the poem and I had quite forgotten it when I was writing.

The repeated phrase in this also features prominently in Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads, which of course I hadn't forgotten because pop lyrics heard in your youth stay with you forever.

However I wasn't thinking of that song when I encountered the phrase in some other context, I think it might have been a short story, whereupon the following poem eventuated itself...

...can "eventuate" be reflexive?  Well it can now...







An infinite regress


And you might find yourself...

...the only survivor of an arctic expedition
looking strangely svelte and gravy-fed
not troubling to explain, the pain
of others being such a thing
as only small attention should be paid to

and you might think yourself the victim
of such an awkward and cool kind of celebrity
sipping tea in your almost empty white living-room
the clamour of the journalists muted

because you do not care and never
read their black/white pointless text
oh they will want you to confess

but you don't understand to what
and you might find yourself

smiling, slightly, at their frustration.


And you might find yourself...

...on edge for reasons that you cannot know
and it seems you are alone
in the lavishly appointed flat
that has been retrofitted into the bulk
of impressive brick and ex-industrial premises

where in nineteen forty-one
your grandfather was once an apprentice
and there might be for you the strangest stir
of what may just be guilt, but...

you might say that yes, it is a shame
that all those people are not now employed
but then again, you might recall your Granddad

speaking and reflect that conditions weren't
precisely good, or maybe you might simply say

things change and that is just their way.


And you might find yourself...

...falling, for no apparent reason
from low Earth orbit where somewhere
behind you Telstar mocks.  And as you fall,
the air streaming hot and red past surprise
engraved upon your face.  You first pass angels

who hang head-down at the edge of space.
You pass the weather balloons.  You pass
the airliners and wave, briefly at a small child framed
behind thick plastic and hope

they restore their tray to the upright position
before they land.  You pass the eagles, and then
the buzzards, the crows, the pigeons...

and as the ground approaches
you look around, with some surprise, and say

Hey!  I used to live around here.


And you might find yourself...

...trapped in a elevator on the ninety-second floor
with a hologram of a long dead ex...
and you might find yourself a little
stuck for words in this, the least apologisable
of all possible worlds.  And eventually you'd ask:

How have you been?  And they might shrug
and look away as the elevator lurches
and begins to descend, faster and faster
the numbers on the L.E.D display blurring

the cables at first whirring
and then screaming and you might look
in vain for the access panel in the roof

(which no real elevator has, it is
a Hollywood thing) and you might curse

Hollywood as the hologram flicks off.


And you might find yourself...

...alone in the cold dark place.


And you might find yourself...

...playing poker for days of life.


And you might find yourself...

...the only person in the world
who understands one certain word
that everybody else uses.


And you might find yourself...

...rotating slowly counterclockwise.


And you might find yourself...

...attempting to interpret
what's alleged to be your life.


And you might find yourself...

...stuck in a poetry reading
where the poet has apparently entered
an infinite regress.


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