And you died in the summer time,
wind rags and shit rags on the Rye.
And you died in the summer time.
And in no way – and in no great -
those hair rags stirring on the Rye.
And your catheter dance in the summer light,
jerk rags and shirt rags on the Rye.
And your catheter dance in the summer light.
And oh please stand – oh please start –
those sad rags waking on the Rye.
I’ve been reading the headlines about the machete choir and I’m not usually one to pick up the newspaper. I heard about what they did in Islington. The mess they left on old street. The machete choir have certainly gotten people talking. They most certainly have done that. They are all the radio blathers about. The baking hot topic of the taxi drivers.
It is so cold in the mornings I could cry icy tears. There is a plastic shower curtain hung where the glass of my window should be. A beach ball, an ocean and a shale and sandy paradise printed on its surface. Sometimes frost creeps along the ocean and I think that paradise is freezing over. Sometimes I like to think that.
They say the machete choir have a key to every house in London. People have seen them out the windows of the underground. In the cold nothing between underground stations. There was the tube that left Charing Cross full and arrived in Leicester Square empty. A hundred pairs of shoes lined up along the seats, a strange groaning playing across the tannoy system. There is an old tube line underneath my house. There must be rats down there, running up and down the rails like haunted carriages. There must be.
I haven’t worked in a long time. It never suited me anyway. I used to work pushing a litter cart round and round Tottenham Court Road. Every day that I worked I had a feeling in my belly as though I was falling. At Christmas we held a party on a patch of sand by Blackfriars Bridge. I thought I saw a man’s face gulping his mouth under the water. We made a point of not picking up our litter.
There are stains on my bedsheets like bruises. Blossoms of black and red and brown. I know that eventually the machete choir will visit. I am goose-pimpled with fear at the thought. I am not afraid of what they will do to me, rather I am terrified they will see my soiled sheets. I feel flushed with shame for what they might think. In my dreams my sheets are as hard and white as porcelain. I slip down them as though I were being pulled along on a sledge.
When Furious Winston had been a little ape his Father had taken him foraging in the black and eerie cloud forest valleys below their home. The two of them had tramped through the seeping thickets of thorned and flowering undercanopy, searching for the husked delicacies that grew hidden amongst the starving trees. He had seen centipedes as long as snakes and beetles as big as rats. The leaves of every plant drooping, sick with the shade, branches reaching down to grasp at his sleeves and beg for help. Birds in the tallest almendros spying on Little Winston, thinking about carrying him away. When the flood clouds gathered the forest got so dark they may as well have been underground. They hunted in the pouring, blackness. The creeping scent they followed washing in and out with the rain. His father explained to him that delicacies don’t grow in the sun. That there is an earned sweetness in the struggle, a magic of the despicable hunt.
You would have given it poise.
It made you sick to think of it throbbing lewdly through the emptiness of outerspace.
"I'm glad I didn't buy you that replica gun for christmas."
"...they've got human eyes but nothing else."
They said they had pushed the factory a thousand miles to the sea. Its foundations mounted on wheels, those wooden spools, they said, taller than elephants, that the engineers curl up and around the endless wires and rubber organs to the street and the new born sky scrapers.
Its chimneys wobbled when the road broke into patches and when they ground over speed bumps or fallen animals. The highest windows snapped on their hinges, their buckled latches grasping nothing. The furnaces glowed through the gaps in the brickwork and through the frayed paint on the blacked out windows, red iron industry puncturing the creaking evening. The carrion crows gathering on the roadside, tearing at the ground with their beaks, cocking their heads as the factory grumbled past, choking on the earthworm strings of foundry smoke that followed.
They said that they had found the factory in some dog-end suburb of the north. Drawing in the gasps of the bored school yard air. Droning five-iron swings, humming birds and old, rubber strung cassettes. It had blinked its furnace eyes at them as they had approached. Puffed out a complacent chimney full of smoke.
They said the trickiest part was the lifting, they held onto ledges and door handles and corners and attempted to synchronise themselves by yelling down from ten. During the first three tries the over eager prevailed. The south wall of the factory lifting a good while before the rest, everything not welded to the floor inside sent tumbling northwards, the north doors swinging open and the factory, nauseous from its upheaval, vomiting power-tools and workshop benches all over the shale forecourt.
When the factory was finally held evenly above the ground, they all agreed that it was much lighter than they had expected. They juggled with the weight tentatively, passing it between their hands, patting it up and up and up into the air like children playing uncertainly with a balloon.
You had been the first brave enough to throw your side of the factory high above your head. So boldly that it took the others entirely by surprise. It had very nearly somersaulted over itself. They had hopped and clambered around after the vaulting building, crying out, stretching threads in their clothing to catch and steady it. They said that you had all of your laughter leaping out of you, your arms high-risers, your fingers tingling as if you had thrown off all your sleepy worries into the air alongside the factory.
Later when they were trying to balance the building onto its wheels you were laughing so hard that the factory trembled in your hands, its brickwork loosened, stray concrete crumbled free, bloated rats bowled out through its vents and crevices as though they were brown, scraggy tennis balls. They said they all laughed too, clasped with the joy and wilderness of you. Your fierce delight.
You strode out ahead, marching to the rapture beat, the factory followed, pushed by the others who clambered over one another to see you smiling and swinging your arms at the front, twirling your happiness around like a baton.