And Karl Marx Said
My dad said if we were like Russia here
nobody would need elections; we’d all
agree with everything because everything
would be for the best. We’d have the latest
medicine, everyone would be educated
and there’d be no unemployment. Women
would do the same work as men (only
with blonde beehive hair) and we’d be
putting people into space. And the music
would be good. Progress would be non-stop
and in a while the state would wither away.
What would happen after that he didn’t say.
He took us to the exhibition and we saw
the photographs: spaceships, machinery, farms
and a monkey with a huge cancer on its face.
The best bit was, he bought me a Russian doll
with eight smaller dolls inside, the tiniest
a green speck. You didn’t get those here.
Sometimes you break it
into neat squares
suck on each fragment
as it coats your mouth
then swallow, probing
residue from your teeth
with agile tongue.
Sometimes you take
the whole bar in your hand
bite hard, leave scars
from your rapacious snatch
chew into rubble
then let it liquefy
prolonging the moment
of mouth ecstasy.
He looks at me across the table, confides:
‘This train is not scheduled to stop.’ ‘What?
Not here, not anywhere?’ He looks away
walks grimy fingers along the plastic edge.
‘It says…’ His eyes meet mine, no flicker
of doubt staining their lucent faith. ‘It says
this is the last train. No more to come.
They’re taking us-’ ‘But this is Bromsgrove.
What about…’ Slow as an owl he blinks,
stares out of the window. ‘No, not even…
Not even Birmingham.’ His gaze bores through,
far beyond Birmingham. ‘Of course you’ve heard
about the Rapture?’ I think of mountains, poets,
ice cream, sex. ‘Sadly you, who are not…
not one of us… will not be taken today.
I wouldn’t like to think what your fate might be.
So this is fate. I ask, ‘But how–?‘ He knows,
his smile is lit with his knowing. Just then the train
slows, halts at what you could take for a platform.
He shakes his head. ‘I can’t believe the wickedness
of this world. Or maybe I’ve got the wrong train.’
Susan Jordan has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and writes both poetry and prose. She has had poems published in several magazines and anthologies including The Journal, Obsessed with Pipework, Prole, Snakeskin, South and the Agenda online supplement.