What happened to me
to make me this soldier?
To make me a man wary
and even a-
of people in alleyways
and on motorways
bin and gone;
the song that drifts distractingly
for a moment
lost to history, mebbe;
which can mean the seam and
er[r] between a death clear for him –
or a life dear for you?
And you have been
but I have never ventured further
than southwards onto Spain
and westwards into
volcanoes which once said so much to me
and now mean so little,
So if you have the right to clock
every piece of trash,
whether human or material,
and watch all that CCTV
watching all your CCTV-ed movements,
why should it be so
that without training at all –
without reason to fear the
and whole – I should spend my life equally
watching with your precision
the way that others are following me:
as if that soldier who
never was …
* I just wrote this poem as a result of thoughts which came my way whilst watching the film “The Separate System” last night at the FACT Liverpool event I have already posted about this morning.
In a section of the film, a veteran describes how he is – even when now a civilian – never really a civilian: always on patrol, always checking out and clocking the people, the objects, the threats all these things could pose to him.
His training has taken over his life. He can never escape the condition of soldier.
I was so taken with this idea, and behaviour too. I have sensed and experienced similar emotions and acts. I still do, though now generally without fear, find myself clocking my environment in very analogous ways. Does this make me ill, as my doctors believe; or does it reach back into something that happened to me in my past?
This, right now, I have no way of knowing.
I’d love to find out, however; either way.