In central London you can hear a pin drop.

Pillar patterns in the wallpaper continue, deep in the night,

to bear up this Edwardian world.

In the corner of the mirror a pilot, with a light,

watches the US election on CNN on a laptop.

Headphones, spectacles suspended from the neck ―

these do not interrupt the operations of insomnia

or the tides of interracial sleep that come

to glue like balm the former exacerbations.

From Halloween and Guy Fawkes to Obama

to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement to the next

decision on interest rates, to the Glenrothes by-election ―

the diminished days wince past.

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We fold and unfold. On the ward,

life and health are infused by means of

liquids, signatures, rituals against contamination.

The relapse, which we defer, is inevitable.

With the accurately personal atmosphere,

nobody has any doubts as to what we are dealing with.

A year or two is thought to be precious.

As the man with the collar discovers,

they hold the cup of life to your lips for the last sip.

Like the flow in the Tottenham Court Road,

it is impressionism without the umbrellas.

We co-operate ingeniously in the defeat

of pointless and shameful suffering.

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But shuffling and shoving slop between groups

and uncertainty arises as regards criminal intent

and the scientific impact of pesticides.

There are ripples in the econosphere.

Fire broke out, a bus crashed, a plane came down

in Mexico City to disturb all calculations.

Meanwhile our attention is milled

in the great spiral of hospital urgency and delay

and the frail coracle of the soul churns out the storm,

uncertain whether headed for port or reef,

and finding them perhaps not so very different.