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Collected Poems

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

page 108

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Discarding even the bag of chocolates and the novel
I climbed into that hovel
on wheels the second-class smoker
praying that Fate the irrepressible joker
would grant me release
permit me the hypnotic peace
of wheels clicking on rails for a few
beautiful hours but by God who
should be there who by God's grace
but the fat spent woman with a face
bitter as a holy war
she whom so often before
I had met in my stifling crayfish dreams
(waking with screams)
and with her the grim
wolf-jaw (husband escort paramour or fifth limb)
with the orange-and-chocolate blazer
and the smart-alec shoes.
Her voice was like a razor
at the throat of quiet. She was slanging
the foes of Justice. The trouble was there hadn't been a hanging
and when it came to murder she was no latitudinarian
and definitely not a vegetarian
the faintest stink of blood
made her feel good
and even her mental picture of the gallows' action
appeared to give her some (strictly biological) satisfaction
but a spoil-sport Cabinet had stepped in and stopped the fun
Doncher reckon they ought to put him on the end of a string
the murdering bastard doncher reckon and let him swing
I'd like to do the job
with me own hands the slob
and by God if they'd let me so I would
I'd fix his lordship I'd fix him good
and proper and let him rot
but they havn't got
the guts to slip a noose
round his dirty ears
hell in twenty years
he'll be running around again loose
and none of us
safe at night he'll have the run of us
page 109 just because of a few
bastards in Wellington….
                      And you
you don't believe in religion do you? wheeling
on me with acid relevance and I feeling
I was in some sense conniving at a threat
to this poor woman's life and honour I couldn't get
a word out of my mouth and felt very much to blame
and overcome with shame.
Oh Mr Tennyson, your dream of fair women,
how it echoes remotely, at this late date, a lemon!