This is for the people, and one of ’em in particular, who lasted the whole distance of my going-away party back in October, right through the following Sunday. You know who you are. It’s an early draft and just finished, so comment/critique is welcome.
The End of Days
We stood that day and watched it rolling in,
knowing our ending will be telegraphed.
Surely any good apocalypse will call ahead
to make up for its rudeness. This wasn’t one,
but a solid imitation, stomping grey and angry
up the sky like jackboots up a boulevard.
There were lots of things in the air that day:
the whine of electricity, and a ragged sort of joy,
Underworld twisting through the gems of glowing grass,
the swell of well-known voices and the tang of wet brown glass,
the crackle on the skin of thunder, danger, static,
a world shot through with high-tension wires.
We sprayed our laughs around like rifle rounds from child soldiers,
wild eyes rolling, the kind of people you’d find
chewing on the carpet at the Corner Hotel,
trying to catch a buzz from twenty years of beer and fungus.
Spread out on the rooftop like chops on a griddle,
and waiting for the Four Horsemen sky to season us.
There were lots of things in the air that day;
the end of the world was just one of them.
And it felt like if it came to that, to barricades
and hordes of beasts and weapons of unholy fire
that we had formed a solid crew to face it.
Acid always gives a sense of portent,
but there was no overstating the great wedge of storm
arriving like a Vogon ship, hanging in the sky
in exactly the way that a brick doesn’t.
And yet it wouldn’t hit. Its outer edge
was a civic planner’s thunderous wet dream
set-square straight in puritan geometry –
so five blocks west were suburbs mashed flat,
kissed by rain the way a butterfly
kisses a windscreen on the Autobahn,
while all the east reflected your left eye in clear blue.
And right above, the line between the two,
as we sat dry and tried to stomach the dichotomy.
It ran its edge along us like a sickle down a thumb,
slicing fine as a papercut, but never spilled a drop.
Five survivors of one ragtag squadron,
we were halfway between flying and falling,
with all the fierce courage of precipitation,
the same unswerving sense of destiny,
waiting for the last drop from a bottle that never came,
waiting for the hammer of inevitable rain,
though neither of them ever landed with us.
Laughing till our muscles formed a picket line in protest,
and not for the first time, launching projectiles
into the dead brown of the park next door.
That part of the cortex tasked with social responsibility
is always first against the wall when revolution comes to town.
Leaning our heads back on the brown ceramic
to watch the sky with eyes as deeply glazed,
or standing proud on the house’s prow, wind in our hair,
doomed soldiers watching the tides of darkness gather on the plains below.
This is when arms are so important.
The ones that hold us on the worst of nights don’t get forgotten;
those that grace our shoulders on these best of days the same.
Both of yours are both of these, so multiply out endlessly.
We didn’t swap too many words.
The ones we love aren’t often told,
while those we tell are those that give the kickings,
so we didn’t jinx it. But you knew it without thinking,
just as I know how to tap the brake to pull my car up smooth.
Just as I know that the end wouldn’t bother us.
Death ain’t the spectre of your terror-dreams;
he’s mortality’s school principal, the universal killjoy,
a vice cop with a better set of threads.
Ignore him like a pimple on your arse.
The apocalypse will come; and me and you both hope it’s something good.
Much better to go out in a new frock spectacular
than a track-panted Tuesday night alone.
I only hope that, when the dress rehearsals are done
and the final day’s fifth gear really starts to whine
I’ll look around to find you with me,
standing on the house’s prow,
wind in our hair like di Caprio fanboys,
waiting for the storm to come in.