Tag Archives: drugs

Poem: ‘Fellow Student’

I went round to Sarah’s flat one night:
“Hi man,” she said, “Yeah, you can come in, sure,”
apologising as she shut the door –
“but not for too long, you know how it is –
I’ve got two essays still to write
and then exams start – I’m in quite a tizz.”
She yawned and laughed, said “I’ve just changed Sam’s nappy,
and now he’s fast asleep – at last!” she smiled –
“Wow, but he keeps me busy!” “Also happy,”
I put in. “Yes, but not all the while –
he’s got a weak chest, coughs, cries with the pain,
I get so uptight we both end in tears…
his dad got sentenced, over drugs, eight years…
that’s long: I guess we won’t get back again;
I’ve got my Finals coming up, and then,
after, who knows? I’ve hardly time for dreams:
with Sam and studying, sometimes, it seems
my life’s nappies and essays, nothing more.”
She changed the record, sat to roll a joint,
and said “First thing I do, even before
I take Sam to that Nursery up the road –
he’s bigger every day! He’s quite a load!
But anyway, that’s not the point –
first of all, I get stoned, and stay that way,
or else I’d never make it through the day.”

A new cloud added to her soft rich room
a further depth of blue, a silent pause.

She spoke again, her thoughts already gone
back to her work: “And then, they seem such fools,
dividing all Philosophy in schools.
You know my option is the Indian course;
I know so much of what the old books mean:
things of which lecturers can’t conceive, think guff,
I understand, they’re places where I’ve been…
I’m always trying to turn the lecturers on:
if they’d drop acid, or just smoke some stuff,
they’d see so much… but they’re not brave enough.
So Transcendental just remains
a trendy course which their students can take
if other courses can’t keep them awake.
But still they try their worst,” she said, nonplussed,
and read “The Bhaghavad Gita retains
relevance for our century. Discuss.

Christ, aren’t they boring!” she said, biro poised.
I let myself out, while she found her page,
and Briggs, her hamster, woken by the noise,
went streaming up the rat-race in his cage.

*****

This poem dates to the time after I had dropped out of the University of Dundee, but still came back to it in the years that saw most of my 25,000 miles of hitchhiking. I feel I learned more by wandering in and out of jobs, countries, languages and religions than I would have if I’d stayed on Sarah’s path. But then, I have no idea how life worked out for her, so who knows.

The poem is semi-formal – rhymed but without a rhyme scheme, in iambic pentameter with some occasional liberties taken with metre… but those liberties are comparatively acceptable, even beneficial, in a longish poem as they break up the metrical monotony. That’s my excuse anyway, and I’m sticking with it. The poem was published decades later in Snakeskin – thanks, George Simmers!

Hamster Race” by Naked Faris is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Poem: “Eva’s Trip”

Eva

(Poster for Prostitution Support Centre, Norway)

Some of the girls I know
Go to the University
Sit so pretty
Prissy
Kiss-kiss and cissy
With beautiful boys that they know
Friends to drink tea with
Chat with and be with
Feather-headed into the feather-bedded night.

Oh no, sweet Jesus, hear me. I scream.
Such a life of show
Is beyond what I dream.
Give me a man who I’ll never know
A man without feelings, without wrong or right
Without obligations
Except for the money.
Let him be cold and hard as the money
And the money as dirty and evil as me.
I can’t trust feelings, I never trust feelings
And I don’t care
That I can’t care…
I don’t dare.

Some of the girls that I’ve seen
Listen to that classy music, they sit
And play piano while they drink their tea.
That’s somewhere I’ve never been.
Cello! Piano!! What SHIT!

Sweet JESus CATCH me beFORE I SCREAM
give me ROCK, ROCK, give me ROCK oh give me ROCK
ROCK, give me ROCK, give me ROCK
blast my MIND let me DROWN give me SO much of ALL
that my HEAD and my BODy are FINally SOUND
give me ROCK, ROCK, give me ROCK, ROCK
give me ROCK rock ROCK rock ROCK, ROCK
DROWN me DROWN me, LET me go DOWN
aWAY
aWAY
aWAY.

Some of the kids from my school
Would sit down to a smoke, have a toke and cool down,
Drift round the town feeling cool.
Not me.

Some of the students I’ve seen
Trip out on acid, they want to expand.
They want to feel all that they can, and still more.
Not me.

Give me JUNK.
Give me the rush and the bliss of fuck-all.
Give me the unsatisfaction of life.
Give me the treadmill toward the next fix,
The stealing or whoring, the need, the despair
Of being whipped up an unending stair.
A problem of Now I can just about handle,
The safety in knowing tomorrow’s the same
And the whole problem, thank God, unthinkable,
Only the treadmill toward the next fix,
The fix of nothingness, of peaceful nothing.
And let me not think
LET me not THINK
Sweet JESus if I THINK even ONCE
I’ll SCREAM I’ll SCREAM I’ll SCREAM
I’ll DIE.

This poem was originally published in Ambit in the UK when the delightful Martin Bax was editor, and has been reprinted various times, most recently under the name “Eva’s Trip” by Bewildering Stories, edited by Don Webb and John Stocks.

I wrote the poem when I was living in Copenhagen at a time that there was a lot of concern about young people from across Europe running away to Denmark, especially to Copenhagen’s “Freetown Christiania”, and ending up in prostitution. A big newspaper investigation on the subject gave the pseudonym Eva to a teenager they interviewed, and I thought the name well-chosen for the combination of innocence together with the knowledge of good and evil that such people have.