Saturday, 3 February 2018

Mark E Smith: The Last Days

And the band, henceforth group, played on.
Hauled up in a dumb waiter, Health and Safety approved,
ranting, chanting, slurring, blurring the line between sense and prejudice,
our hero, henceforth OH, rises, eyes darting right to left, left to right;
one withered hand strapped to the chair as if electric.
The end, the end is literally nigh.

Middle aged punters, male, formative years much formed
by aforesaid OH, cheer briefly, assuming theatrical ploy.
They see the rodent cheeks, the visible fucking agony,
the two microphones positioned to allow OH to fidget
and manoeuvre himself into position
of least pain whilst still vocalising, and gasp.

And the group played on.
Riff number one: bass-led,
guitars trace double-helix pattern,
its DNA of German/Lancastrian CA ancestry producing
regular and these days planned dissonance.

OH wheeled across boards by wife/kyb, b.voc.
Sober-haired hired hands, suntanned arms beneath untorn sleeves.
Planned dissonance. Seconds of eloquence as diamorphine permits.
False teeth provide added bite. Hell to pay, hell to pay for.
Where once OH paced, now slides down the chair, plants feet on boards
and rocks, fractured, enraptured, if only.

Out on the Merch desk, mirthfully self-identified
hobgoblins lay out apparel, yellow vinyl, silver discs
and check for 4G, re: Mobile Pay. Cash tins open
for punters of Luddite sensibility. Cold imperial measure
in plastic glass imbibed. The group plays on,
muffled by fire doors. Planned dissonance.

A steady stream exit. Disgruntled and/or lachrymose, pause at Merch desk
to recall lank-haired pretender, oddly delicate of feature, part-formed;
then newly-polished spokesman in the Colin/AH Wilson vein,
US wife/gtr, b.voc., unwonted solutions
to planned dissonance - cf. No Bulbs.
Both incarnations available on 180g vinyl with shirt XXL.

Riff number two: bodiddley skip, unselfconscious,
blues accidentals permitted, if accidental. Why dissonance?
Why plan? Middle-class revolting suspects fear
of naked written word. Anyone can bark, we say. OH says:
you try, see if your bark gets anywhere
near this one’s bite. That was months ago.

Later, and on the edge of an industrial estate,
briefly in opioid sleep, OH cannot hear the voice
of replicants in Schindler’s lift. Cannot ask what the fuck.
Not that it was ever any better, he might have added.
Wife/non-NHS carer pushes, clicks and holds door,
aids, unzips, unbuttons, lifts immobile arm, places dictaphone
near face for easy access to brain. Capturing all that might escape
in these last days. Damned dissonance.