The Golden Record
And here are all the things we are:
Brandenberg and Java and Whale Song
Bach and Beethoven and Johnny B Goode
Bagpipes and Nose Flutes and Ragas. Guitars, Violins.
We say hello in fifty-five different languages: are you listening?
We pressed it in gold especially,
like the three kings we know which gifts to bring.
How many light years spinning out from world to world
before you hear us? Or are we alone?
And which is worse?
To know that you are out there, somewhere, behind a moon
or tearing up a galaxy with your fingertips.
Or you are not, and all we are is here distilled,
a lonely thirty three, playing out its mysteries on repeat
to the massed, indifferent stars.
(Read more about it here: http://goldenrecord.org/)
Of course we go to Brest.
The only kind of foreign suitable
for a preacher’s daughter.
Je m’appelle, comment allez vouz?
I slide my tongue inside the language
thinking it will make me cool,
like red wine and cigarettes.
Here, there are supermarkets big as sheds,
Nutella, smoking, a whiff of sex,
the vinegar of table wine. Old ladies show
their lace, cheese smells like feet
and there are snails.
In the French house with the French
people the house is foggy with Gitanes
and the dark of the French father
who, after fighting with his wife,
cuts the lawn in a thunderstorm.
I watch him from the bedroom window,
churning grass to silage,
swearing blue merde, electricity
simmering in the foreign air.
In the morning,
I have my ears pierced
in the market in Quimper.
Two golden studs gleam
all the way home.
My souvenir, my Jezebel ears.
Armour of God
Come on then, suit me up. Give me the breastplate
of righteousness, the codpiece of chastity,
the shoulder pads of self denial, the visor of victory.
Let me brandish my sword of truth and smite
mine enemies with the vengeance of testaments.
After all, the gates of heaven are like the eye of a needle
it takes serious commitment to be accepted up there.
The wife has to help me put it all on,
it’s hot and heavy and the leg braces chafe
in all the soft places.
But at least there’ll be no getting out in a hurry,
and even though my field of vision is narrowed
to a sliver the size of a child’s letterbox,
I have to say, I feel very safe in here.