Sand, poems by Jude Cowan Montague
Jude Cowan Montague worked for Reuters Television Archive for ten years as an archivist and has a lifelong interest in international news. Her album The Leidenfrost Effect (Folkwit Records, 2015) reimagines quirky stories from the Reuters Life! feed. Her most recent album as Montague Armstrong is Hammond Hits (Linear Obsessional, 2018). She produces and hosts ‘The News Agents’ on Resonance 104.4 FM and writes for The Quietus. She holds a doctorate in media history specialising in early British film production and is an occasional creative writing tutor for the Oxford University Continuing Education Department. Her most recent book is The Originals (Hesterglock Press, 2017). She is currently working on a series of novels reimagining the film director Alfred Hitchcock as a young boy and connecting with her own personal history as a former squatter in East London.
What do you want me to say?
The hedger stood on the stairs,
neither half way up not down,
scanning the room of upturned faces
waiting for his speech.
I’m a simple man.
Perhaps I should have lived a different life,
he thought to himself, then I could have
avoided situations like this, or at least,
have something in my pocket.
He couldn’t have realised, he reasoned,
that this would be the outcome
when had strapped on that bag of gold
and slid down into the undersea.
It was impossible to predict that this
was where he would have landed,
his head on fire and his hands shaking.
By now everything internal had been replaced,
even his liver was aluminium.
I need a drink, of water of course,
he said, and there it was,
like everything was these days, instantly,
and a thousand eyes fixed on his Adam’s apple
as he gulped down and smile.
That’s what I needed. Huge applause.
How did it feel, Ronnie? Someone shouted.
They were getting excited now.
To be a leader you have to be brave,
resourceful and your stories have to be better
than a first kiss; you have to tell them better
than a first lover. Even if the truth is . . .
not as much use . . . he was staring across
the brown, black, orange, blue heads, gathering time,
his metal organs ticking hard,
the water trickling round them, cleaning,
oxidising, his blood thumping,
the drum of his heart screaming.
I’m an ordinary guy, he said, it could have been
anyone of you. We’re all gold carriers.
They were shaking their heads and hollering,
no man, it’s you, you are the thief.
Look, he suddenly shouted, I don’t mind your eyes
watching me everywhere I go.
Now we are going to show
how, when we step outside this hall,
we chink in unison, an unbroken chain
between our inner slivers of silk. Because,
I must have been drunk on radioactive sand,
the later hybrids are ready.
This is for you, this is your portion,
said the Ferryman, or that’s what he used to be called.
My poor lump, the coal eye, in my hands,
the dark powder this was mine,
crumbling into a cry
that flew angry into the cloud level statospheric,
this was my darkness, bewildered, for me.
Forgiveness is not an option,
the Ferryman said, shaking his bald
head and pushing his wares into me,
are you ready for the journey this time,
are you, we’re going, bands
falling upwards into the sky
and spreading across the horizon, the blistered panic
rising in my gut like a pigeon
burnt to the core. The ferryman is generic.
Woken by a quickness in the badlands
he was the other man who visited in the night,
when my father was away, sprawled
on the couch as if he owned her and me
and my house. This was that old
feeling. My only option.
It would be bitter if it had a taste. The Ferryman
was vanishing and my seed unrolled,
spreading its fungal disgust over the windows, free
breathing black our eyes. Why,
I will kill us all, our fat crackling in panic.
The hunkered will not live to fight.
© Jude Cowan Montague