They have prickly peculiar-shaped ears
a mere switch of accent can immediately
stop working. Their eyes, when expedient,
see similarities between chalk and cheese.

At the back of their minds lurks a menagerie
of facts trained to attack
at a sniff of disagreement. Repetition no object,
they could go on for years, even centuries,

and never ever get bored. This one seethes
from a favourite armchair; that one acts
the peripatetic pursuing you down corridors
then out the door, trampling the quiet of morning,

dividing even the flowers into wrong
and right. They know more about foreign countries
than the inhabitants do themselves, things
about you which you’d hardly have dreamed.

Useless to object this mightn’t be the case.
Here categories come armoured. Logic’s
a hitman hired to lead you down some alley
and then bring out a sawn-off statistic

against which amity forms no defence.
No experience is so complex it can’t be
simplified beyond recognition, rendered
dire and tidy in its own despite,

a doubt-proof fit. Like pebbles their certainties
are polished to a resounding deafness;
in unsaid reply you note how one silent breath
is more wondrous than a thousand speeches...

Martin Bennett | Mudlark No. 12
Contents | Summer Exhibition