While sliding down a steep escarpment, scree
and faeces twisting ankles while we try
to slow ourselves enough, though hard to see
it’s possible to feel the lime applied
by builders from Victorian times preserved
by fetid air for years and trapped inside
the sewer made it hard work and unnerved
us way before we saw the Minotaur
along by where the blood red river curved.
“WHAT THE FUCK YOU COMING THIS WAY FOR?”
he thundered at us never blinking, pale
for someone bull-headed and rendered poor
and stunted, but particularly male,
conceived by non-consensual sex with bulls
as if his violent nature never fails
but due to someone else’s failing pulls
away his own responsibility.
But here he is in Hell. The fault is full
and his and his alone. He rounds on me
“YOU FUCKING GAY” and comes at me to punch
me in the head. I totter back and see
his half-drowned van, still white but scraped and crunched,
embedded in the river bank, and hide
behind it, neck and shoulders pinched and hunched,
my throat is catching on the left hand side
and sharp as if some food has caught and stuck,
my legs slo-mo, my stomach tightens dry.
“YOU FUCKING FOREIGN CUNT COME HERE YOU FUCK”
his bradawl focus doesn’t see our signs
between each other hoping for some luck
we start to run along the bank behind
the wide perspective from the van improves
the further on, the running calms our minds.
Until we hear the sound of horses hooves.
Three centaurs canter over drawing bows
and one says “Back in the River before I lose
my shit with you.” Though somehow Patrick knows
we’ll be OK, a centaur trots up close
and shoulder-barges us then smirks and slows
enough to smell the alcoholic boasts
he fires at us; me noticing my flank
already sore with tension stress the most.
“He isn’t dead, we’re travelling this bank
of River Enoch Powell. Let us pass
– and you’re obliged to guide us, being frank..
I know about your Father being crass,
his love of horses…” “Let me give you him,”
he points to Nessus “He’ll be good. He’s fast.”
The anxious toxic sting of breathing thin
that comes to my attention in the lull
is crawling like a poison under skin.
Distracted though, by Nessus; “These we cull
with arrows every time they bubble up.”
He points at River Enoch, at the dull
lit feet and heads and body parts and muck
of mostly men of violence below
the surface of their bloody stinking rut.
“There’s every kind of violence here you know
from anger disproportionately done
to physical but also mental blows
and through to those who torture just for fun
to see you crumble in emotions terms
or break you with the barrel of a gun
when psycho bosses pushing till it burns
while smirking like your empathy’s a crutch
and for the weak as far as they’re concerned.
when those who think that non-consensual touch
is not a problem: punished here as well
for sexual violence even once too much.
when blackpowder will leave an acrid smell
when skull meets pavement, single punch, and cracks
when blood will clot before the final bell
when eight police will knee her in the back
when IEDs throw Humvees in the air
when slavers must ensure the boat is packed
when threatening a child with a stare
when neighbours dogs have jumped the fence and bite
when dragging somewhere hidden by the hair
when doggedly insisting on a right
that’s luxury by any other name
from oil and sweatshops working through the night…”
“Please. Stop.” I beg. The slow encroaching pain
from waves of nausea start to amplify
the background hum of violence that drains.
“Who are these people?” I begin to cry
“I don’t know where I am or what to say.”
“We’ve crossed the Enoch to the other side.
You’re on your own.” He slowly trots away.Social tagging: cantos > dante > inferno > plumbing > poem > violent