Money to burn

Money to burn

A sweaty grip on a suitcase handle,
The smoking wick of an altar candle,
Great expectations for a great escape,
A few reels of Hi-8 magnetic tape,
An empty boathouse somewhere on Jura:
An hour and seven minutes of torture.

An immolation to no deity:
No dance, no drink, no song, no gaiety;
An acrid smell and a sickening guilt;
The whole of the law being “Do what thou wilt”,
Up the chimney with twenty thousand queens.
Salt on your eyebrows and ash on your jeans.

We love the taste of a courtroom drama,
Redistributing cultural karma:
The sanctity of sin without the taint.
We love the pictures we could never paint,
In well-lit spaces, neither hot nor cold,
Sponsored by petrol merchants, framed with gold,

But these mild, middle-aged men in the dock –
Who once were King Boy D and Rockman Rock –
Neither tries to protest his innocence,
Though they stand charged with the gravest offence:
Like Aleister Crowley and Oscar Wilde,
Their lives have become artworks much reviled.

That such a spectacle can soon wear thin
Is no testament to the time we’re in,
It’s more an awed discord with the weight
Of their material; we contemplate
Our lives, our deaths, the comparative worth
Of their work against any given birth.

We talk of madness, gluttony, and greed –
All concepts from which we’d gladly be freed –
But if you can’t explain it to a child,
Is it complex, immoral, cruel or wild?
I think on this, and edge toward the fourth,
The JAMs on my headphones – It’s Grim Up North.

Appears in:
Mistaken for art or rubbish [2013]

Video:

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