Poetry: Landfall | clivejames.com
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Hard to believe, now, that I once was free
From pills in heaps, blood tests, X-rays and scans.
No pipes or tubes. At perfect liberty,
I stained my diary with travel plans.

The ticket paid for at the other end,
I packed a hold-all and went anywhere
They asked me. One on whom you could depend
To show up, I would cross the world by air

And come down neatly in some crowded hall.
I stood for a full hour to give my spiel.
Here, I might talk back to a nuisance call,
And that’s my flight of eloquence. Unreal:

But those years in the clear, how real were they,
When all the sirens in the signing queue
Who clutched their hearts at what I had to say
Were just dreams, even when the dream came true?

I called it health but never stopped to think
It might have been a kind of weightlessness,
That footloose feeling always on the brink
Of breakdown: the false freedom of excess.

Rarely at home in those days, I’m home now,
Where few will look at me with shining eyes.
Perhaps none ever did, and that was how
The fantasy of young strength that now dies

Expressed itself. The face that smiled at mine
Out of the looking glass was seeing things.
Today I am restored by my decline
And by the harsh awakening it brings.

I was born weak and always have been weak.
I came home and was taken into care.
A cot-case, but at long last I can speak:
I am here now, who was hardly even there.