200 Section 21 Potpourri






magie noire tabac

blond Place Rouge

Moscou Paris can-

can nuit joie tabu

snuff Chantilly

fracas rose quadrille

életrique coup de dés

idole interdit l’ivresse

Ypsilon climat rive gauche

opium ivoire lumière

poison ma liberté savante

éternité trésor égoïste

Minotaure sublime poême

Lolita alchimique

J’adore le passage d’enfer

allure fragile


200 Section 19 Jessie Down

Jessie Down and Out

Jessie has been pronounced well enough

not to be a drain on NHS resources any more

and turned out onto the streets, even though

she has nowhere to go. She hitches a ride

with an HGV driver in exchange for a fuck,

hoping she has given him some vicious STD,

as he dumps her off like a sack of coal

outside the cathedral, as cold night draws in.

Jessie wanders round sticking out her hand to

passing strangers begging spare change. Tugs

at the coats of some. “I’m just out of the nut-

house,” she pleads. “Give us a break.” They shrug

her off and walk on. Jessie stuffs some garbage

up her dress to keep herself warm and make her

look like she’s up the duff again. That way the pigs

are less likely to kick the shit out of her during the night,

she reasons, and beds down on bubble wrap

in an empty cardboard refrigerator box.


Jessie Rises

Jessie is woken by a pile of newspapers being dumped down

beside her. She has slept surprisingly well. It must be the hospital

meds that haven’t yet quite worn off, she thinks. Rips out a copy

of the morning rag and reads the headlines. It is all about Yu.

She shuffles round the corner into a Starbucks. “Out!” the barista

immediately roars. MacDonald’s are less fussy, although

the early morning Eastern European worker sighs angrily as Jess

dumps a pile of low denomination coins from dirty hands

onto the counter in exchange for a prefabricated breakfast

of hash browns and sausage and scrambled egg and a plastic

cup of scalding hot instant coffee tottering on a tray. She watches

folk go by off to work through the window as she eats and reads.

I know that place, she thinks, looking at the pictures of the police raid.

It’s not that far from here. Maybe I’ll leg it there. Snoop around. See

what I see.

Jessie Out and Down

The close is ringed off by police like an atomic bomb

has just gone off. Jessie slips round the back, taking care not to cross

the blue and yellow crime-scene perimeter tape, down along

the muddy banks of the brook where lazy folk dump their trash,

slipping, cursing, picking up knick-knacks that might have some

monetary value somewhere down the line. You’d be surprised

what rich folk toss out. A still corked bottle of Babycham;

a bauble box, shards of willow-pattern crockery, a baby’s diaper,

talcum powder, an intact bottle of French perfume still wrapped

in the fancy packaging of the franchise from which it came. Jess

scoops them all up in her skirt and wades on along the brook, enjoying

the feel of the cold water and stones on her booted feet,

the weeds lapping against her thighs. A UFO appears in the sky

tracking her. They want her clues, she thinks. Or maybe her meds

are just wearing off. She reaches a point where the brook runs

out through a rusted metal pipe into the sewage treatment plant.

The UFO—or is it a police helicopter—is still hovering around.

She panics. ‘Better get rid of these,’ she thinks, and ditches her treasure

under some rotting leaves. Sheds her clothes. Tiptoes

over the corrugated ruddy tube and dives, like a diving bird or an Olympic

athlete, in an arc into the fetid waters below and disappears.

200 Section 18 Yu Home

Yu gingerly turns the handle

and shoves the front door open

over the accumulation of local

advertisers and electricity bills

under the letter box in the hall.

The TV and the living room

furniture have all been taken

off by Special Branch. She

treads the uncarpeted staircase

up to her empty bedroom;

looks out through the uncurtained

window over the greenhouse

and the garden fence, the sewage

treatment center, the steeple

in the distance like a hypodermic

needle piercing the sky, the unseen

ancient circle of mystical stones,

the chemical and biological

weapons facility, the motorways

speeding through rolling downs,

the big city, the white cliffs,

the P & O ferry, continental

Europe stretching out far

and wide from the Gare du Nord

out across the unconquered

endless steppes of her motherland.