Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

You Do Not Have To Be Mad – Patrick Mackie

You Do Not Have To Be Mad

So this is where you are, 
right at the heart of the wan, crushed 
summer of the referendum and of blame, 
of sleek resignations and stiff betrayals 
and gaudy outrage, the summer 
of hungry or even famished talk and of 
stuffed, accelerating newsfeeds, 
the summer of news of mass killings, the summer 
of reporters streaming with fusions 
of tired duty and wry excitement and dumb horror, 
of press conferences breaking over and over again like waves 
before slipping back down each time off the dark rocks, 
the summer too of strangers looking for Pokémon 
endlessly, as if enchanted, on suburban roundabouts, 
the summer of the pound falling as if somebody, 
or everybody perhaps, and this would include you, 
had cursed it, the summer of the property ladder 
revealing yet again that it is posed in mid-air and joins 
nothing to nothing, the summer of someone beautiful called 
Drake topping the charts for aimless weeks because nobody 
knows a good way of measuring music sales any longer, 
and then of days of weird glory in the Olympic velodrome, 
the circuits and the bikes skimming by like zeros, 
the summer of explanations spinning like wheels in hot sand dunes, 
and seated right there beside you is none other than Cervantes, 
who happens to be writing a poem about it all, 
the poem is not exactly this one, of course, 
but he too is watching Europe as it wanders 
slowly from city to city through the jumbled afternoons, 
amidst their piles of blank, cloudy heat and then their listless moods of 
rainfall, Europe has read too many novels about itself, 
so he thinks, it has made itself mad, 
it is fitful and agile and bleak like the shadow under an ant 
on a verandah, Sancho has passed it a helmet filled with curds, 
its nag has been painted by Daumier at his most crusty, 
mordant and outrageous, 
but it is still questing in its way, you can say, after 
the voluble rags of adventures, you can still watch it 
weaving somewhere between violence and farce, 
and his pen will still be streaming there at the tables in the wet glowing squares; 
now London spins its arms in the hard air as if 
you could be unsure whether you were a giant or a windmill, 
and Cervantes is writing his novel again so that he can hide his own craziness in its waves.