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Graham Caveney

Jean Rhys' Drunken Signature

                                                    “Get money, get money, get money, or be forever damned.”

Help me to register your trademark,
Initial your scrap paper at the reception desk
To maintain a hazy autograph,
Hang your spleen on the mantle-piece.

Tear me a piece from your riotous nightdress,
Place it in the classifieds of the Masochist's Newsletter;
For 50% of all future royalties
Flex with the melancholic best of them.

                                                      “I'm a pen. I'm nothing but a pen.”

Shall we pimp out your bedsheets
Slither around in your nitty gritty handcream?
I'll buy you a butterfly collar and an ankle bracelet
They will keep the cockroaches at bay

“You'd think I'd get delirium tremens..Nothing.
I must be solid as an oak.”

 Tactless at still being alive,
Nervously hawking your writerly eye-shadow;
The typewriter and a stained-glass window
Earned you, 13 days in Holloway prison.

                                                    “...impersonating a dead writer called 'Jean Rhys'”.

Were sequins the source of your ressentiment,
The not-quite nonchalance of  a failed fille de joie?
Where a kept woman keeps her dairies, misplaced
Books and chorus girls who had their quarrels in public.

The agoraphobic flaneuse suits you well,
Stranded in the compromised maket-place
With your limitless need intact.  Catalogue
Your never not already here fear.

                                                   “Love is a stern virtue in England....usually a matter of hygiene”

Let us toast the corrosive tyranny
Of insufficent funds and other                                                     
Inadequate sadists,
Drain the inner world of its neat symbolic shell
And await the arrival of  a new cheque-book.

They were not ungenerous, your reluctant masters
And semi-omnipotent pimps. Fifteen francs per week
Brought your foot to the throat,
Painting the toes
A garish girlish pink.

You were not quite your self
Those last thirty-five years
Of discontinuous you-as-I
Moods, owning the wounds

Bathing them with a chiffon scarf
Doused with perfume, like salt
In the ocean, a spiteful whoosh
To the neck and chin and cheeks.

I could take you to a meeting,
Have your floral prints clash
Against a big blue book  that said...
“My name is....and I am...”

Or let's gate-crash the Claremont hotel,
Write 'We Aren't Allowed To Die Here' in lipstick
On the mirror of a maid's bedroom, leaving behind...

“...grubby shoulder-straps, sordid roll-ons...Those sort
of smart clothes you get from Jewish Madam shops”.

Together we will set up a stand
In the entrance of an academic conference:
Sell pamphlets with titles like...


Copyright © Graham Caveney, 2015.