Pity The Woman Made of Wood
By Kevin Higgins
Crowned temporary Empress
of this tragic bit of chipboard floating
off the northernmost coast
of what used to be Europe.
Open please your hearts, empty your heads
and pretend not to notice the predictable few
disfigured old bastards who operate her,
yanking the all too visible wires
that make her jaws clack
awkwardly up and down. Pity please
this woman made of wood
now she’s too well understood
and gets all the kicks and expletives,
when she tries to speak about
anything other than the quarterly accounts.
Her back burdened and bent.
Respect please the enormity
of the pearls she must bear
about her splintering neck.
And don’t be behind with the rent
or petition her to save you when you again
characteristically fail to save yourself.
When smoke curls black under your door
you can snore on unperturbed in your narrow little bed,
bought with a pay-day loan obtained – quite legally –
from a bloke reputed to give defaulters
cement flip-flops for Christmas, to take them safely
down one of the larger pipes that joyfully
pour shit into the River Styx.
But the woman made of wood,
must at all costs avoid
unguarded flames for she would go up
like a cheap deckchair that picked the wrong
day to go sunbathing at Hiroshima.
Think of this, please, when bawling
your lucky human screams
as the fire arrives quite matter-of-fact
to oxidise you to a small hill of ashes
around what looks like
a collar bone. No such luck
for the woman made of wood.
Available from April 24: Song of Songs 2.0: New & Selected Poems is published by Salmon and includes a substantial number of new poems as well as selections from his six previous poetry collections. Click here for more information.