My American Life

My American Life

They say that moments before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes.

It doesn’t, it’s just those thing half-remembered and those things half-forgot

It seems like the whole world is swollen from the heat

And the souls of my shoes are beginning to bubble and burst

Bubble and burst

But the electric fans still flicker purr and pirouette noisily

As one by one monitor screens spark

Then go black

Spark – then go black

Spark – then go black

And people are beginning to shout things out of the window

And the sun winked knowingly

With heartfelt sincerity at weather men predicting clear skies and sunshine

Not black clouds

And deep down in the soul of this building

Dried out cellars and drains hot cough

Lift shafts buckle and stairwells burn

And the only sounds to be heard

Are soft murmurs of lost firemen stories

About how they watch as the air disappears and the heat rose

And how death, like madness can sometimes be quite beautiful.

And people are beginning to throw themselves out of the window


Hot air rises

One thermal carries me a papal message

Soft sound bites and insinuations for all my unpunished crimes.

Pissing in the cabbage patch

Nicking crab apples from the presbytery

Half hearted genuflection’s and laughing in Mass

I’m surrounded by the innocent phoning loved ones

Just one last call

Crying and flying in one breath

From the corner of my eye

I notice Xavier, the Mexican Janitor

Doing the morning post

Smiling at passers by

And telling everyone to “have a nice day”.

And Charlie is stood in the corner

Chewing his fist and sobbing

Wishing he hadn’t done half the things he’d done

And whispering between sobs

I’m not guilty

And he did love his wife he just never knew how to show it

And all those tawdry nights in strip clubs

With all the Go Go girls Go Going

Was because she never understood him

Hand in hand now, they’re throwing themselves out of the window.

And I remember one time in the swimming baths

With my summer free pass and my sugar sandwiches

And macho men called Dave or Tony

Checking my fingers for wrinkles

Asking me why my head was shaved and if I had veroucas

Then smiling and waving at all the pretty girls

Whose mothers would have killed them if they knew half the things I knew

Yeah, I remember that time in Sharston Baths

Top diving board

Our Chris on one side saying

“Don’t do it you’ll kill yourself”

And our Hughie on the other saying

“Do it”

So, I did it

I caught my piece of the sky

But there was no running, no ducking, no bombing, no acrobatics, no petting

No smoking and definitely definitely no ball games

And all those sacks of books you could only ever flick through

Cos if you read them all you’d know too much

Missing the bus to the library that stinks of piss in the entrance hall

With dusty flakings of old men’s skin

Which is carried by solider ants to cracks in marble skirting boards

And soon the cemetery will all have to be closed down

Cos the birds won’t fly over them anymore

As I smoke my dads last stolen fag

And wonder what all the fuss is about

Trying to blow smoke rings

But coughing and crying about what happens when my ma dies

And if I’ll see our kids again

And if we’d have to change school

“Have a nice day,” shouts Xavier above the boom of the Hoover

And my colleagues are running round screaming for Jesus

And the dogs don’t bark anymore

They just call my name and look away the moment I catch their eyes

And the cats are plotting

And the spiders are after me for the hot water  trick I learned last summer

But the flies are on my side

They live off my soul

Buzzing from thought to thought

Then hopping from intention to intention

And regurgitating everything into my innocent mothers diary

Which is full of appointments and dates

Important messages in red

Personal thoughts in purple

Hand in hand now, they’re throwing themselves out of the window

And the office joker isn’t joking anymore

He’s trying to keep the smoke out with a ragmag

And the office joker isn’t joking anymore

He’s trying to keep the smoke out with a ragmag

And Xaviers emptying small bins into bigger bins

Then smiling at the window queue

It reminds me of the sound the Rag and Bone man used to make

To let people know he was coming


And he’s telling Mr Singh the Coal man not to talk to Muslims cos they dance like footballers

Then he starts bollocking me for all my so-called Horse whispering

Saying I have singed the main of his favourite mare

And blackened the fetlocks of his favourite filly

I am just stood here trying to make a decision

Window or door

Window or door

Window or door

Then, I notice Xavier, walking towards me

And he hands me a post it note with a question on it


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