Campaign Fever   (19.4.10)

We woke drugged and naked. Did our flowers
rob us and beat us over the head while we were asleep?
They were competing for the same air as us --
the thick, vegetable breath of under the eaves.

It seems like several days ago that I went
to see you to your train. A cuckoo called
and our vision drizzled, though the air was dry.
In a place I'd never noticed before, a low siren

was sounding alternate notes. I remembered
it had been going all night. Was it in distress?
I slept four times, and ate with the base,
groundless haste of someone eating alone.

Afterwards I smoked a cigarette and lay on my back
panting, as heavy and immobile as my own saliva.
The newspapers preyed on my mind. On the radio,
the National Front had five minutes to put their case.

The fiction of an all-white Albion, deludedness
and control, like my landlady's white-haired old bitch,
who confuses home with the world, pees just inside the door,
and shits trivially in a bend in the corridor.

Mr Thatcher made his pile by clearing railway lines
with sheep dip (the millionaire's statutory one idea).
When he sold his shares, they grew neglected,
plants break out and reclaim the very pavements...

I think of you trundling across Middle England,
Peterborough, Leicester, Birmingham New Street --
the onetime marginals -- up to your eyes in a vigorous,
delinquent haze of buttercups, milfoil and maple scrub.

— Michael Hofmann (1986)

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