Poem in which the twenty words most common in heavy metal lyrics are used

Though we’re aware there are moments when the form sorrow takes will mean a reduction in our awareness of things, it is in those moments that our awareness perhaps becomes insufficient for us to counteract the effect our sorrow will have on how aware we are. My sleepy demon tells me he doesn’t mind stumping up for the pizzas, but insists we’re gonna go halves on the beer. The television plays quietly; the candles on my cake burn low.

It’s been a wet afternoon so my sleepy demon suggests a game of scream-like-you-mean-it and though, after the visit from the police has made me feel I could reasonably claim victory, my sleepy demon keeps at it until the budgie is breathing audibly, and the air smells like rusty cutlery, and the tv channels are flipping between a difficult quiz show and championship ping-pong. I get a hunch there’s something gunky in his veins. There’s a box of tissues in the kitchen, but when he cries he doesn’t use them. I’ve a hunch there’s something silty in his soul. Between us we’ve practically completed the crossword.

My sleepy demon shows me a photo of a bunch of younger demons, leaning against a wooden door in their baggy yellow sweaters. He smokes, and taps the ashes into a lemonade can. The more he stares at the candle flames, the more they appear to splutter. The notes that I told my therapist were an account of my dreams are, in reality, just some paragraphs I copied from a sci-fi novel.

My sleepy demon hands me a page from a spiral-bound notebook on which he has written ‘a mood of resignation reigns’. The takeaway menus and till receipts are already in shreds, but now we tear up our coffee-shop loyalty cards, the tv-licence renewal notice, a club-night flyer, a jiffy bag, the amaretti wrappers, the street map, some pages from his notebook and my hospital appointment letter. Sometimes when I’m queuing for coffee or picking up the phone or getting onto a train, I like to pray there’s somebody somewhere getting all this on camera.

My sleepy demon reckons I’m confusing the idea of eternity with the idea of the passage of time, and while, he says, what I’m anticipating is the continuing rotation of winters/summers, morning/evening, weekdays/weekends, what I’ve got coming is an unbudging moment sometime early in March where across the town the drizzle is consistently thickening and in the kitchen the strip lights seem particularly yellow. A small sleepy beast crawls in through the cat flap, and my sleepy demon offers it the pizza crusts and the complimentary tub of hummus.

In the goodbye note he pins to my door, my sleepy demon expresses an ethical objection to metaphor. There are, he hints, particular gods whose brief it is to make things easy for us so that when the gods whose brief is to test our resolve get on the case the test will be sterner and the results will give a truer picture. In the evening I’ll sit in the kitchen with my yo-yo and a new box of ping-pong balls, and I’ll barely even have to breathe before the candles blow out.

Matthew Welton

(The source of the data for the 20 heavy metal words can be found here).

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