0201 Two Skins, One Thick, One Thin - Poem by Michael Shepherd
No, don’t open that door. Don’t try.
It’s locked anyway. Or should be. Some people say
it’s worse than seeing their first dead body
half dead half alive, they never quite forget it.
Me I’m used to them. Them? Well OK,
I shan’t let you look but I’ll tell you.
It’s my two body suits.
Thin skin, thick skin.
When I go out in the thin skin
life’s more exciting but god it’s tiring.
A trip on public transport and I come back finished.
I see things, feel things rather, that are scary.
I see people’s next lives they’re creating for themselves.
There’s this blind school round the corner;
I saw them all on the station platform once and I could see
those who were going to see properly, next time,
those who were making themselves blinder…
then next day I saw an ordinary ‘seeing’ man talking to a friend
without using his eyes, just dead ahead…how could I tell him?
Another time, I sat next to a man
who looked as if he’d slept rough
but the scary thing was, he was giving off such intense heat
that I knew sure as sure, he’d just murdered somebody…
I never knew that was a clue…
I see everybody’s perfection and their present self
simultaneously. You might think it’s wonderful.
Yes and no. Not when you’re wearing your thin skin.
Yes, of course it’s great for poetry…that’s why
I bought it, why I wear it.
The thick skin’s for business, interviews, being fired,
the Editor’s office, the dentist, the doctor,
the mother-in-law, the footfall
in the dark alley, all the times you just
want to be tough, insensitive, eff the lot of them,
guess I don’t need to list all that?
And yes, sometimes you can go out in the wrong one.
A friend tells you of some awful family disaster
and you think, thick-skinned, well that’s their problem,
let them sort it out… and hate yourself for even thinking it.
Or someone looks at you on the wrong day
like you’re looking at me now,
sorta disbelieving, disgusted and pitying..
gotta go. Seeyerlater.
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