OUT THERE, IN HERE

Out there somewhere a hot air balloon, ropes trailing, making up its own mind.

Out there somewhere a dog who is a horse, according to its microchip.

Out there somewhere a train where madness squeezes into every carriage.

In here a clock screams No!

In here everything is spotless, faithless, a let-down.

In here with each passing century it seems about right. Believe the digital camera. Sand lasts longer than those who are allergic to it.

In here nobody turns for advice to the red, white and blue flagpole. The flag was torn down long ago by the feral and friendless but the pole itself was painted by visitors from, it is said, Jerusalem, attracted by a fictional history of the village written by a fifteenth century friar who was himself a fiction.

Out there boats patrol the coast on the lookout for misunderstandings.

Out there the remains of failure are found, or so it is announced.

Out there an armoured military truck smashes into a car. The invaders cover everything like fog.

In here what can I tell you? This is the factory of the mind, of the poem, of the portrait.

In here I thought I could leave but the battle for the bridge over the ocean was too intense.

In here are hundreds, thousands, millions of languages.

Out there someone is saying No really, I insist.

Out there the coroner will show you unexpected, explicit death in a series of slides.

Out there a sparrow rests for a few seconds on the barrel of a tank.

Out there witnesses measure shadows in the twilight.

Out there you are not allowed to say the sun is shining.

In here we have a family tree stretching back fifteen generations in a shrinking economy.

In here it is always four in the morning.

In here you opened a shop and sold kindness, conscience, pity, a good racket to get involved in.

Out there it’s tennis-time again, forty-love to deuce as ten thousand phones explode into fragments of ancient bone.

Out there I hear myself crying out It’s just not worth it!

Out there at the exhibition a black, grey, white, cool, modern art, canvas wall print for sale at a price of three litres of fresh yoghurt and a chunk of hard cheese.

In here a blue-painted woman unicycles through the forest fire but falls at the last fence.

In here echoes are meaningless, sparrows are pushed to get everything built in time for the deadline. A question of weakness, it seems, but no one will give that excuse time of night.

Out there babies are reborn, cars won’t start, no signal as usual.

In here language disintegrates into a jumble of sound.

In here you can hear them scratching behind the skirting boards. Rule out half-siblings.

Out there in-built virus protection slithers under the high-priority door of the Museum of Challenging Thinking and finds a potential cousin who might inherit the whole estate.

Out there don’t reach for anything too wide of the off stump, let the short ones loop up and over the head of the woman in a checked shirt who is minding her own ice cream in row twenty-six of the closed cinema.

Out there percentage-wise it’s the size of a dragon and twice as tasty.

In here we drank too much brown wine. I clear away the empties, knowing Stanley’s father Cyril who owned the off-licence was also a member of the guild of wig makers and changed his name to Paul.

In here a lost cricket ball runs down a mountain in search of coffee and cake and a quiet read of yesterday’s paper in a place where no one will ever know how high it flew.

Out there a woman watches from her house on top of a hill as down on the plain horsemen ride through mirages of dust. You can develop that image into a poem if you like, if you want the conventional.

In here it’s still three pounds fifty a week for a damp room with a two-bar electric fire that runs on shillings.

Out there only those who don’t know explain.

In here that’s the point, the only point, yes, it is, really it is.

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