Friday, 5 March 2010

Funny People

(The title track of Barbra Streisand's film Funny Girl is the basis for this poem's opening line. This is probably the first poem that I ever wrote with performance in the back of my mind, and I usually sing the first stanza...)

People who need people,
Are – not – the luckiest people in the world,
But funny boys and girls at a loss.

Like the lamppost, in a line with
Other lampposts,
The one that flickers in
And out of
Or is that strange orange colour,
That otherworldly glow
that is just different enough
From the normal, piercing, yellow blaze
To not be the same.

That lamppost knows
That it is weird,
That within its mass manufactured –
Perspex as standard,
only one nine nine five today, sir,
only one nine nine five
Perspex fitted lamp casing –
There run currents outside of Ampere’s control.
That flow and fold over one another
And repeat and bend and bash
And repeat and bend and bash and batter
Inside identical steel walls.
“Get out... GET OUT.”

That lamppost knows that it is different.
That these impulses triggered and dancing,
These erratic lightning flashes
These magenta manifestations
None of the other lampposts spit out...
Their songs are regular and cordant
With one another
And the lamppost so craves their company.
Instead, it takes solace in the birds
That flit and flicker above it.
But even they are startled by
Irregular outbursts of clementines cascading to the floor in a dusty pink river of confetti.

The lamppost’s dream is that one day,
Someone will come along
To catch those clementines in a basket and peel them with juicy relish,
shower the lamppost with its own confetti in celebration of such splendour,
Funnel the pink paper into fountains to flow out of Cupid’s arrows,
They fall
On the
Picked up by the wind and
Dropped into neighbouring fields and hedgerows,
Where once more they startle the birds
Out of distant reverie.

The lamppost watches them disappear,
And sees that once more, filling the wasteland
Between it
And the other lampposts,
After its bright exchange of words and light,
The only place to hide in, is

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