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Lipstick on the 211
You enjoy symbolism – balance this off your Barthes:
You are lipstick-tube traveller, sat atop the 211 bus
to penetrate a Waterloo sunset.
Once you’ve slipped through those sucrose oranges
slinking off into the blackness of a rioting night,
your feet will follow the historic path of the pissed-off
to heave your well-weighed, twice measured, once cut
ideology to the sky with the exuberance of a Pentecostal choir.
These protests will fall onto the ears belonging to those
who have cut off their nose to spite their own face.
They will answer in, what is to you, an accented tongue,
whose sveltely rolling vowels tempted your
nail-on-chalkboard consonants enough
put two rivers & an ocean between yourself
& the bucolic-minded dialect of your peninsular hometown.
These Powers That Be will answer in polite rhetoric with a pussyfooted:
“Oh, terribly sorry… but: NO!”
But you will not be twice seduced – tempted again
by the flame that once warmed, then burned you at the stake.
Not while its tongue is down the throat of fascism,
grown from your own rooting soil, full of those people
of whom you do not speak –
shameful racist relatives at holiday family gatherings
who drink too much,
eat too much,
then – with a yawn – pass out,
& when the ALARM BELLS WERE GOING OFF,
collectively hit the snooze button & rolled over.
So you toil, valiantly scaling pedestals
without chipping your nail varnish –
chanting witchy wordplay with sexy
until you reach into the locus
of the pathological matter at (tiny) hand,
& pull out the slimy organs & dripping tubes
found within every behemoth,
& knock its lights out
– softly, with a muscular smile –
& masticate its blackened heart
between your meticulously sharpened fangs.
After you have done this,
you will reapply your lipstick.
Keleigh Wolf is an American poet, performer, Marxist activist and culture journalist. Her work has appeared in anthologies and publications worldwide, and she regularly performs with the London Poetry Brothel in the West End, as well as across the UK with her most recent solo show, Nervous Splendour. She is a founding member of The Little Versed Poetry Collective, and is the subject of the short documentary, “Keleigh Wolf: Glowing in the Aftermath.” She produces and hosts the Propaganda Poetry radio series on London Boulevard Radio, and is Poet in Residence at Kabaret @ Karamel, where she curates monthly events.
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