I wrote this 41 years ago as an anxsty 19 year old. A week ago Britain voted to leave Europe. Just sayin’.
The dead parachutist, prostrate on my skylight,
his helmet face flat against the glass-
he cannot be real.
And the aeroplanes that will pick me out
like anyone else, and shatter my house
and shatter me; they cannot be.
Brussels, kind Brussels, the softest name
in print, has gathered arms.
She takes her spite in aeroplanes,
in aeroplanes anonymous, that glaze
the sky indifferent, inscribe my house and me
with pilots swollen on suicide
and the endless cups of tea.
The parachute man above my room,
the dead Tom-peep, his aeroplane
has crashed outside the park-
he has been thrown all this way
to torture my dark, to worry my sleep.
I wake in my sleep- it was only a dream,
but he is still lying there,
and nothing has come to claim his soul
and no one will take him away;
his wounds breath like whales,
like whales they delight
in splashing the glass,
in drowning the world.
No one can touch him, that metal man,
he has dropped from the sky.
He has dropped so he is inaccessible
to all but the eye.
It must be November, the sky is so smokey
cowering in the trees.
It could be October, the sky is still pale
or studded with leprosy.
But this is an August night
and it is bright, bright, bright,
and why will the phantoms not disperse
with the dull dawn and the sun’s hearse?
I am not asleep, and his wounds breathe like whales,
I am not asleep and Brussels, Brussels, Brussels,
the softest word in print
is at war with the world.