On looking back into the mosh pit
This was never about fun, you rotten liar,
never about fun, but something higher,
never about fun. Yes, about drums,
pounding like the feet of some
thing slouching toward Bethlehem,
and, yes, about the Bedlam-rush
Blake and Kerouac once felt behind their eyes,
but to spell ecstatic as just happy is to lie.
This is not happiness. This is where happiness
comes from, but the feeling here expressed
is more than just a sticking-plaster smile.
The make-up and the clothes mean more than style.
Exile is the option chosen here, self-imposed
retreat from a weekday world purporting to oppose
the slavery and cruelty that the normal folk like us
perpetrate: the laughter on the bus,
the joshing in the corridor, and worse
where authorities will not look, out of choice,
the turning shoulders and the pungent looks,
the managers who have no time for books,
the bookshop shelves which creak beneath the weight
of self-help schrifts which seek to venerate
their smiling rule. No negatives allowed!
The can-do nostrums of the lucky and the proud.
All the girls who cut their hair like boys,
the boys who paint themselves to look like girls,
know, all, how it feels to be crushed
by the weight of a world so criminal
and so obsessed with being proven right,
it calls out in its sleep for punishment. By night
the west is lost in dreams of youth gone wild
and risen demons,
by morning once more lulled
to acquiescence by the television sermons,
by the guys in suits who talk before the game;
will drink its coffee and displace its pain
again on these young shoulders, wishbone-slim
in fishnet tops, and go back to its usual kind of sin.
But morning’s far away. For now, the hurt,
the covert cultivar of rage each one has brought,
finds in this pounding dark a place to effloresce,
to bloom in noise and loving violence.