The Monster in Ness

image(Listen to the poem here)




Perfection, happiness, forever—
abstraction isn’t where we live:
if we had not devised a word for happiness
we might well be content
or even happy,
for many times we are.
It happens
when something
like a ray of sunshine
catches us
(often on the shoulder
as we turn away from
too much trying)
and makes us shimmer.
It is the nessness
which undoes us and
makes us think we can convert the glimmer
into a shine which lasts
forever
(another word which is not part of
our estate).
It would be no less reasonable
if we decided to aspire
to perfect,
pure bananahood.
Words are not moulded by the contours
of the universe but take
shape in our mouths.
And yet we spend our days searching for unicorns:
at day’s end failing in our quests
we lie down in despondent beds.
Nessless is what we ought to be,
from time to time at least,
but don’t say it out loud,
or else we’ll all start thinking hard
of how to find
the way to
nesslessness.

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(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

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