The Commonplace

The Commonplace

(after Mark Halliday)

It was word-blind, wouldn’t speak .
It was writing , the sort you had to unpack,
a string of tiny flags.
It was a purple logo on a mint-green
rollerball pen. You tried to squash it
but it converted itself back into its base.
The Sign of the Square Root
didn’t frighten it.

It was usually the same or equal
to a low moan. We kept
it hidden, like Munch’s Scream
in a box. Its sidelong look was filthy
but when we looked at it again
we discovered it had no eyes at all.

Despite all the rumours
It was heavy. It reminded us of
Eros, looking for all the world like
Batman, being dragged from his
plinth by men in trilbies.
It was bronze, looked like gold
but was really lead. It was something

to name a day after, wear a ribbon for.
It handled well on corners.
Not logical nor mineral you wouldn’t spit at it.
You’d certainly kick it underneath
your bed but it it would nag like tooth
rot, snare your best clothes.

We smoked it its face. Tried to leave
it in lost-property but it continued
to write its own copy. We were glad
when it trekked off on its gap year.
Unusually, we looked for its signals
on the undersides of planes.

Later we brushed against it in the dark.
It smelt of lemon Turkish Delight.
There was something knowing about it.
But massive at the same time.

You wouldn’t want to go in a lift
with it. It was indigo, denatured.
We’d already viewed it on a movie –
channel. What it lacked in short-term
memory it made up for in the artwork
of its tattooed barcode.

We followed it to the top of the High Street.
When it turned, we put on silly hats and voices.
It was magnificant.
It was naff also. We tried to affect boredom
but in the end warmed our hands against its
language, words like ‘ corrie’, ‘yolk’ and ‘tundra’.

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