The air itself

inside the tiny, inside the candy-coloured theatre,

open to the beachfront, sweet to the retina

and wriggling, you might say, in the palaver of its excess,

is suddenly still as the found-out devil;

it’s a drunk man discovered by the frightening silence of morning,

or it’s a sneaking crocodile caught with a sausage in its muzzle,

or it’s the reality of silence – that part of a child’s face

when its ice cream slips from the cone. It’s trapped, the air is,

as perpetual rudeness is trapped in the sound of a dead slap

of a flat stick, the very second it’s wrapped, the exact

second it’s given to the head of its pin-striped, its pinnied victim – oh Judy!

– and it’s staid, the air is, like the violence of a tossed-up baby,

or the shadow, the mournful shadow of a man –

its penumbra of bent nose and sticky-out chin – slow-rocking,

and almost kazoo-like in its shrill and don’t-blame-me fauna,

while respectable mothers do pick up their infants,

while husbands do throw an implicit arm over the wife’s shoulder,

as grandparents, swathed in sun cream, do ease their deckchairs shut,

and everything just sort of creeps soft and backwards,

as the sea creeps, in out-roads of awkwardness.

It’s whispering, the air is, as the sand here might whisper:

I don’t like it anymore, please, for God’s sake, take me with you.