Liz LochheadUKWriting2000

My time at this paradise, Civitella, was short, but very, very productive. My project, which I hoped to just make a start on, (a radio soundscape version of a particularly visual theatre play) astonishingly completed itself in my first nine days and, to my delight because I hadn’t written one for ages, I was then able to make three poems in my second week. Amazing company, laughter, food and excursions. Renewal...

The Man in the Comic Strip

For the man in the comic strip, things are not funny. In the land of the unreadable signs and ambiguous symbols, he exists between the hache and the ampersand, between the ankh and the ziggurat, between the fylfot and the fleur de lys, between the cross and the crescent, between the twinned sigrunes and the swastika and the sauvastika, its mirror-image, its opposite (meaning darkness/light, whichever) under the flag with the crucially five (or six or seven) pointed star running in whichever direction his pisspoor piston legs are facing getting nowhere fast. If only he had the sense he was born with, he’d know there is a world of difference between the thinks bubble and the speech balloon and when to keep it zipped, so, with a visible fastener -- But his mouth is always getting him into trouble. Fistfights blossom round him, there are flowers explode when the punches connect. A good idea is a light bulb, but too seldom. When he curses, spirals and asterisks and exclamation marks whizz around his head like his always palpable distress. Fear comes off him like petals from a daisy. Anger brings lightning down on his head and has him hopping. Hunger fills the space around him with floating ideograms of roasted chickens and iced buns like maidens’ breasts the way the scent of money fills his eyes with dollar signs. For him the heart is always a beating heart, true love -- always comically unrequited. The unmistakable silhouette of his one-and-only will always be kissing another behind the shades at her window and, down-at-the-mouth, he’ll always have to watch it from the graphic lamplit street. He never knows what is around the corner, although we can see it coming. When he is shocked his hair stands perfectly on end but his scream is a total zero and he knows it. Knows to beware of the zigzags of danger, knows how very different from the beeline of zee’s that is a hostile horizontal buzzing of single-minded insects swarming after him are the gorgeous big haphazard zeds of sleep.