Posterity

We could be happy now (and if you are
I hope my tangled ramble will not spoil
a perfect day. I have no wish to mar
your mardi gras or to disturb your oil
with troubled water, nor to bring you pain).
The opening took so long I'll start again -
We could be happy now, as birds of air
(which ones? the happy ones of course) but there
is something evil holding us in thrall -
Posterity - the notion drives us spare,
as if the future cared for us at all.

Instead of stepping out to travel far
and wide, we hide inside to sweat and toil
on some dull masterpiece, apply the tar
and feathers to our own behinds. We boil
our brains in brine, the better to attain
the unattainable, the merest grain
of immortality. We claw and tear
at trivia and pray that we may fare
better than all the others. To stand tall
among the greats, to shine without compare,
as if the future cared for us at all.

No need to play the precious superstar.
Sufficient to be diligent and loyal
in service of the muse. Avoid the bar
at least till one o'clock and show a royal
displeasure verging on a fine disdain
to anyone who asks us to explain
our antisocial tendencies. Beware
of all who interfere. A rabid bear
with toothache is a model sure to stall
the curious; or freeze them with a glare -
as if the future cared for us at all.

And everywhere from Rome to Zanzibar
a hell of fellow scriveners embroil
the waking hours in faking on a par
with Stevenson or even Roddy Doyle.
A form of madness favoured by the vain,
this writer's clamp, the stamp of the insane
and insecure. Poor fools who never dare
to do, we step aside and idly stare
at braver players fighting for the ball,
call it 'research' and pack it neat and square
as if the future cared for us at all.

Like Valient-for-Truth, each mark and scar
bears witness to our time above the soil,
but who will value scratches on the car
as evidence of valour? We recoil
too late from recognising that the main
thrust of our lives was gazing at the rain
and sitting, sitting, sitting in a rare
resemblance of a scrawny Rodin, bare
bulb overhead, in front of us a scrawl
of doomed ambition, martyrs to a chair
as if the future cared for us at all.

Posterity, you ought to have a care.
You're irresponsible, for everywhere
in every age you lead to our downfall.
We banish happiness, embrace despair
as if the future cared for us at all.

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