The Form of an Armoured Car (Belfast, 1977)
A Saracen’s squat tonnage shudders through the lines of flat-faced houses. Its heartbeat pulses on their window panes as soldiers scatter into pre-established patterns: defilade, enfilade, duck and cover, run. Boots clatter over cobblestones. An officer shouts. His public school English ricochets off walls. The street vibrates to disciplinary rhythms: the binary pounding of the old one-two – the communal yes and no of us and them. A tricolour winds in backwards through an open upstairs casement. A sheepskin rug is patted down, loosened floorboards realigned by shuffling feet. The engine revs again inside the bookcases and shelves while children who have learned to meet authority with silence are ushered into backrooms and kept low.
Dali’s Telephone and the Liberal Left
after Paul Muldoon’s ‘Something Else’
As we paused by the plinth on which the phone’s case rested, that inverted, perspex tank, I imagined my fingers round its kilogram of rancour and thought of camouflage, blue blood, your tongue’s delicious pink turned to the boiled hiss of a lobster and how no-one gives a fuck about the Irish card you play. In my head, I heard a ringing, then a sizzle like I’d lifted that crustacean from its cradle and pressed its icy shell against my ear. I thought again about connections, about its livid mass, how I’d like to swing it hard and bring it down across your face – relentlessly, unstoppable till we were soaked in empire red and I could think of something else.