The Chapel Under Suicide Bridge
After the last Summer of Love flower is plucked
God ensures the seventies are really fucked,
Bell-bottoms, decimal coins and glam-rock bands,
The sky-jacker D B Cooper falls to land.
Between the metallic limbs of Suicide Bridge
Seahorses of smog dance upon the ridge
Of Archway Hill traffic flees to escape
From the black tarmac the bodies they scrape.
A splattering of teeth, brain, blood, stomach, bone,
Gone the sexy dimples, the gym-fit muscle tone.
On busy days more souls queue as a rule
Than the top board of your local swimming pool.
A winter plague of darkness sent from Heaven
Or down below to trigger Armageddon,
Black smoke lowering from London chimney-pots
That forms on the bridge of the nose big balls of snot.
The plague of smog needle-sharp slips inside the lungs,
A reservoir of mucus services the tongue.
The crack’d paving slabs freckled with blobs of spit,
And white is the colour of most of the dog shit.
The cruel wind rips your cheeks like a devil’s kiss,
Your toes cramp stiff with pain like rigor-mortis.
A nun in black robes crosses without stopping
And fades from view a sinister Mary Poppins.
Mad dogs like missionaries mooch the mud-thick street,
Three tramps huddled over a milk-crate compete
To attract the brain-dead with their three-card-trick,
Your judgment, your soul, your pockets neatly picked.
Across the great divide of dual-stream traffic
Heaves a wretched man an exhaust jet of sick,
Holds to heaven an offering exquisite —
A ribbed bottle of methylated spirits.
But of all the horrors on this Sabbath day
Beware the Mormon chapel of lower Archway:
Nestled on a crack in the side of the hill
Like a monstrous bird of prey sucking your free will.
Hooray for our hero huddles to keep warm,
Cradles a Book of Mormon from the coming storm,
Overborne by his mother at the bus stop,
Like a little Greek hero, a budding Aesop.
Mother aglow with the gospel of the Lard,
Cheeks rouged like a lover’s, eyes agog and starred,
Radiates a high heat through the hairy stack
Of a back-combed, sprayed and teased beehive of black.
Ploughing through the rough-sea smog and down the dip
A big red bus like a modern Titanic ship,
Screaming iron brakes on the black plate-thick ice,
Grinding past the queue and stopping imprecise.
Clamber aboard the platform, grasp the chrome pole
Sticks the skin of your palm like a burning coal,
Scramble steel-tipped steps as big as concrete blocks
On wings of mother’s coat-tails and Sunday frock.
And emerge into a sea of thick blue smoke,
Reel down the aisle knocking knees of common folk,
Ears pop with the pressure of a devil’s choir,
From the front pretend you’re steering a Spitfire.
A sudden fear overwhelms your unformed mind —
That mother high with the urge to save mankind
Might throw her hands to Heaven and lift her neck
And shock the poor passengers of the upper deck —
‘Let us bathe in the blood of baby Jesus!
Oh praise the Lard! Let not our faith be specious,
Hallelujah! Oh Lard, let me be consumed!
And let me live in Heav’n if they have the room.’
Every Sabbath you’re made to acquiesce in
Her soul’s infection with an object lesson:
Yeah, the allegory of a pack of cards,
For the Ace of Spades we liken to the Lard,
Jesus will be the King we pull from the pack,
The joker Joseph Smith of course is the Jack.
Our little hero author though barely eight
With full cynicism can appreciate
A Sunday pack of cards seems hardly fitting,
Does unseen damage to the victims sitting.
Though to the author seems a saddening bore
We see how addictive is the metaphor.
This tale regurgitated ad nauseam
Over endless Sunday chicken or charred lamb.
Don’t rupture the rapture of mother’s moment
Endowed on rosy-cheeked missionary gents
We always drag to our sacrificial dinner —
Made to walk the streets they wane weekly thinner.
— Children, where are you? For the last time come back.
Sit at the table or I’ll dish you a smack —
Deep inside the membrane sac the soul has bled,
Your senses soaked with the sense all hope has fled.
Life has tricked you to the fate of the forlorn,
You should never have left the Cave of the Unborn.
Suicide tempting, always a faithful friend
The nightmare of Life put to a grateful end.
Longing to be far from this withered wasteland
Of weathered analogies and woeful commands,
Far from the waking to endless depression
And guilt from a smorgasbord of transgressions,
And dark deep downright devilish dreary dread
And a grey unfriendly world of walking dead.