This poem is taken from Stand 218, 16(2) May - June 2018.

James Sutherland-Smith Four Poems
Text in the City

Slips of crystal powder, the stash, the gear, the bong
suddenly became the buzz and fuzz of words
neither right nor wrong.

Had the tongues of fire burnt out his inner ear?
Had a honeyed syllable left a voice mail
saying ‘Don’t come here?’

A paragraph had been intoned, praised in the cabinet.
He’d never wished to be so misunderstood that this
was where he’d get.

The discourse of harassment, just a word, a kiss, a whim:
he told the paparazzi that a silly verbal slip would
never turn on him.

Illegal tip-offs, backslang, cant begged him, ‘For God’s sake sell!’
His bon mots inflated. His prime metaphors went flat.
Then his word-stock fell.

What was left was plain speech, meetings slept through, reports on file.
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