Under The Eyes

© By Tom Paulin

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Its retributions work like clockwork
Along murdering miles of terrace-houses
Where someone is saying, ‘I am angry,
I am frightened, I am justified.
Every favour I must repay with interest,
Any slight against myself, the least slip,
Must be balanced out by an exact revenge.’

The city is built on mud and wrath.
Its weather is predicted, its streetlamps
Light up in the glowering, crowded evenings.
Time-switches, ripped from them, are clamped
To sticks of sweet, sweating explosive.
All the machinery of a state
Is a set of scales that squeezes out blood.

Memory is just, too. A complete system
Nothing can surprise. The dead are recalled
From schoolroom afternoons, the hill quarries
Echoing blasts over the secured city
Or, in a private house, a Judge
Shot in his hallway before his daughter
By a boy who shut his eyes as his hand tightened.

A rain of turds a pair of eyes the sky and tears.

© Tom Paulin, permissons Faber & Faber Ltd.

Tom Paulin sees violence as predictable. The poem recalls how timer switches were stolen from street lamps to make the early bombs.

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