by Justin Wong (September 2020)
Self Portrait with Pentagram, Otto Mueller, 1924
I could gift you my heart,
My soul I could hand over to you,
But these ideals in time came apart,
And desire’s a dangerous pursuit.
The affections that would go past life,
The ancient kingdom of familial home,
Now replaced by discord and strife,
Through this land I’m made to roam.
For life has been transformed by powers,
This bitter reality’s been made clear,
By transferred wealth that was showered
By the social engineer.
For I could gladly compete with my brethren,
With friends I knew at the old school gate,
The tinker, the cobbler, the reverend,
Though not with a welfare state.
For those who can print money,
Have a tree of multiplied fruit,
A hive of eternal honey,
And the nation’s wealth they can dilute.
I could give up the flesh in flash,
In a quick, unassuming way,
Paid for with cold hard cash,
Short-lived as a junkie’s days,
I could exchange my heart or wallet,
I could hand over matter or soul,
But love is a burning bullet,
And money its weight in gold.
There are other things that are suspect,
That could quite easily upend my days;
Giving a portion of all I possess,
Her accustomed till death to my ways.
There are places where love is bought,
Of quick and fast-fading delights,
God’s ordinance changed into sport,
Under the glow of a lurid red light.
Such things are much cheaper than marriage,
Alot less grief and heartache too,
Where love and the baby in carriage,
Is now a risqué thing to do.
Or I could give over the wonga,
To one thousand and ten would be nice,
In divorce I could spend more in dollars,
Then in ten thousand foul dens of vice.
Then what shall be of this generation?
One adulterous at its heart,
Immorality in veneration,
One’s sweetheart one with the tart.
Under the cover of bedroom sheets,
Swift affections are now the trend,
The dreary spectacle of Soho streets,
Spread to the distance of Land’s End.
Have a round to our times debased,
Light a cigar and pour a scotch,
In lieu of the wisdom of old erased,
And another bedpost notch.
To the loves that should show,
On nights when the week is done,
A soul I’ll never know,
And face revealed in the morning sun.
England gladly gave me birth,
Whose shores I knew through life,
A private portion of the earth,
Though not a worthy wife.
Then why should I willingly indulge,
In ways I find less than true,
If I’m compelled to divulge,
That I am not I because of you.
Where marriage and its lofty ideal,
To love in sickness and in health,
Has come apart in fortune’s wheel,
For the transfer of mere wealth.
There are some that say this is progress,
Days lived in a consuming, lonesome dread,
The smell of our decomposed corpses
Searched out some six months after dead.
The general belief that this is better,
Then the morals of before,
Freeing man from love’s bondage,
That, or a conspiracy of whores.
Justin Wong is originally from Wembley, though at the moment is based in the West Midlands. He has been passionate about the English language and Literature since a young age. Previously, he lived in China working as an English teacher. His novel Millie’s Dream is available here.
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast