The city burned. The centre could not hold. I sat at the top of Springfield Park, watched the crimson skies, smoked and swigged cider. Things do happen. In my headphones, old melancholy songs by Jawbreaker and Leatherface played reminding me of times when romance was something that would and could happen. I kissed the bottle. I fancied I spied Andrew Norton sitting on a bench nearby, a quixotic smile on his face. Pigeons and magpies bobbed around his feet, feeding on crumbs.

My book-brides had failed me, made me a cuckold. What good had any of them done? Cut me off from the world around me. My enthusing over Arthur Machen’s ‘The Hill of Dreams’ withered in the face of cheap sex and cocaine, the Void that stripped the world of it’s colour and passion and replaced it with the bars on Curtain Road; maybe I had seen the Great God Pan, but no one else gave a fuck. I could talk until my lungs gave out about Moorcock, Moore, Sinclair, Ballard, Home, Keiller, Jarman, and on and on and on but it would not make anything better, I would still sink in swampy alcohol, obliterate myself, dying in a self-reflexive mess, pinioned by the past, uncertainty spreading with plague-virulence. The knowledge that no one makes it out alive.

That had been so hard to learn, that so many people did not care, I knew that they could not see the city burning and their lives would continue unchanged as I, The Poet, Cerise, Maria, Jerome, everyone I cared for were buried under the rubble of ages and indifference. But things do happen. “I might be dying, but I’m not dead yet.” Maybe, maybe, there was a chance. Things do happen.

Out of the foliage, something appeared. A monstrosity. Across his woody torso, scrawled in a bloody font were the letters N S M, that sat proudly atop the slogan “Post-modernism is dying, we are killing it”. An oracle tattoo.

I stood there, faced it, Leaside brambles scouring my flesh, hot summer air weighing on my shoulders. Armpits a swamp. The dull stink of rotting vegetation palpable, tangible. A shambling mockery of a being in front of me, once so proud, his degeneration a reflection of my failure, our failure, your failure. A sense of ending. A string of images, untethered from time, a life of moments that were now happening all at once, concurrently, as reality crumbled, irony died and the city blazed around me. A sad slideshow of my mother as she was as a young woman, saddled with two young boys; a bloodied nose and ripped shirt at a hardcore show; an aborted attempt to read Halldor Laxness; Abney Cemetery the site of a bleeding scalp and twisted collarbone; Icelandic smiles; the Colombian coastline, air full of pelicans and frigate birds; drunken fumbles, bloodied sheets, a sense of home that I threw away; the impact of a policeman’s baton, hate in the air; dad talking about the Bible; cities only visible in the corner of my eye or in a river’s reflection; biking down the Limehouse Cut; a death-bloated fox bobbing for weeks in the river, flies camping on it’s sodden fur, children poking it, becoming aware of mortality; a list that could go on forever, the unedited narrative of image and feeling.

He looked at me. I looked at him. Fell into his arms. We embraced.