Harlequin’s Clothing

 
So what is civilization? Being a “Listed Building”,
It can only be what it is: a homage to Jeremy Bentham.
Yet someday soon your working if panoptical jail
Will be transformed – a prison-themed hotel. 
You can go there to serve time, as a paying inmate of course.

 

The black hole, the lockdown of your soul? Is this what you fancy now?
Want to bunk beneath the one who’s pissed
Through the mattress onto the bunk below?
Confess to whatever you decide you should be sentenced for.
We have a wing for each malfeasance. Choose from the drop-down list.
 
Specify length of sentence. Hard labour, or something
Less energetic? What you’ve asked for’s what you get.
Once the papers are signed there’s no going back on the contract.
Life means life – if that is what you’ve said that you require.
The nick is such a growth industry we’re opening it up
 
To you, the hoi polloi, encouraging participation,
Fuelling your fantasies as perpetrators
Of category A offences. Of course you have to shell out
For your time, that is, for the time you serve. 
Failure to cough up will be deemed a misdemeanour
 
Further extending your sentence – time for which
You will also be liable. We provide a brigade of snitches
Who will compliantly squeal on you and bring to light such crimes
As you considered ages ago. Ages and ages, but they’re in the know.
We’ve got the vacu-formed cells on our subterranean floor
 
Ready for you, Joe Public. Civic man with your lenience,
Tolerance of difference: belief, sex, race, pronoun,
Politics, living together, getting on together, laws, codes, issues,
Agreements, freedoms of access, speech impediments
No longer targets for bullies, justice warriors’ pensions etcetera.
 
So what is barbarism? War… and incarceration. 
Two booming traditions. Enterprises devoted to profitable
Anarchy. Looting. Pillage. Sweatshops behind bars.
The arms industry. Love affair entrapment by Hephaistos.
Backtrack. This brothel has step free access.
 
Trudgery clocked as I enter the monastery of G wing,  
Hermitage for the vulnerable, haven from the talons of their prey
(Softened arms, dodgy jogging bottoms, shaven hair).
And Harlequin’s clothing? When Leibniz invokes it
He’s pointing out that your outer garb is not the same as your underwear.

About anthonyhowelljournal

Poet, essayist, dancer, performance artist....
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