Poetry: Every Third Street by David Dumouriez



Every Third Street

Accidental killing? Done with ease!
                        Believe me.
Oh, you readily accept it on TV
when Person X shoves Person Y
and head and hard place magically combine,
causing Person Y to die. Instantaneously!
But you won’t have that from me.
No, you’ll snort and do the eyebrows.
Truth, you see, is simple to deny!
Take that little girl next door.
(The only one just vaguely planned.)
Of course, they asked me. On many
different days, in different ways.
Stern men who thought the world
was theirs; young, progressive ones with
taught techniques; ladypigs who failed
to fashion soft enough expressions.

They tried. They tried the lot.
I just played young. And sometimes dumb.
Of these, I was only one. And lucky.
Luck’s always been my thing!
I’ve won competitions that I didn’t enter;
got grades for nothing more than giving
teachers time just to enjoy the sad
remainders of their lives; received
the kudos and the elevation belonging
to the slow or quiet. And every time
I thought the game was done ...
well, let’s not jump that gun -
or, better still, pre-empt the knife!

They found her in the bushes where
I’d left her. I’d not done much.
Just shook her up a bit, that’s all.
Never liked her. Wondered, really,
what it might be like to find that
secret power. The one you’d get
when no one was around.
I knew my chance would come.
We faced each other and the moments
seemed to melt. Can’t judge it now -
five minutes at the most? - but it was just
enough, and not enough, to make
me wish to taste it one more time,
if that makes any sense. In fact,
I think she mostly died of shock. Just froze.
It had to be. It wasn’t what I did.
Funny how they blamed that other kid.
Innocuous you’d say he was. Bit slow.
But not the worst one of his type. And they’d
been friends. Honestly, it lacked all brain,
but that’s the cops, they never change!
They even had the father in the chair.
And him with all that ‘Daddy’s girl’
and stuff. Come on, the only one
who could have done it there was me.

Too busy looking up to notice down.
Mugs. Could have saved themselves some hours!
                      Look, I know you’re curious ...
Do I ever think about her now?
She’d be the age that I am - minus six
or seven months - tethered to some
dullard, lumbered with a pair of leaking kids.
Well, the answer to your wonderings is this:
probably more often than you’d think.

Living things go quickly. They compromise your joy.
Our town had a tramp. Always shuffling round.
Smelled him on the way back home from school.
Used to shout a lot on his own. Been in a war,
our parents said. Which war was that? We’ll never know. 
Any case, he was still around when I reached

drinking age. I realised, then, what it was I’d
always really known: that he was - ‘Mad Dog’,
they called him - the perfect pick to be
the second one. It’s something in the eyes from
them to you. A mere civilian couldn’t comprehend.
The two of you existing in the world.
They see your eyes and then they know.
They know they won’t depart alive. Well,
I kicked him harder than you’d kick a ball
in 90 minutes of a match. Felt his skull
go in like one of those meringues that
mother so enjoyed. Then I cycled home.
They interviewed the local yobs, of course.
Rebounding round the town it was.
And then it wasn’t. Unless a neighbour brought
it up, or else some spanner down the pub.
After, it was all forgot. But not by me.
                            No, absolutely not.

I didn’t stick around that place. All that could
be got was got. I knew that if I wanted
to continue - if! - I had to move along.
Smiled myself a job. Willed a better one.
People liked me. Well, why not?
Everything that I constructed was a wall.
A wall behind a wall, for them.
A path for me, leading to a turn.
You people, you were all so busy
looking at my teeth, you didn’t glance
above! Honestly, you disappoint me.
All you had to do was look. You would
have known. Could not have failed.
All of it: again, and then again,
it only ever could have come from me.

Nobody believes me when I say it -
they think it’s just another jape -
but it’s easy to dissolve a human life.
Could occur to any one of you.
‘Accidental death’? ‘Despatch of the
defenceless’? ‘Extinction of the hopeless’?
If you’ve any kind of mind, it gives the taste.
The intervals contract because they can.
You’re in the seat. You recognise the victims
when you see them. They’ve marked it
on their heads. Down every third street
there’s a sign. They come to you.
They come to you. It’s intricate, the more
I see it now. The sense they want it
in their minds. The pain is just a
fraction of the thrill. They think, at points,
they never craved it, but knew that it
was coming still. A contradiction that!
They find you. There’s that searching
in the eyes. Believe me, there’s nothing
equal to the longer kill. I’m not by any
means the music type, but it’s symphonic.

My socialising hours have taught me that.
There’s a vast potential but a basic frame.
He knows the end; she knows it; so do I.
And the luck! Did I mention my good fortune?
They had me. In a room within a room.
Within a building. No exit minus their permission.
I allowed myself the merest smile. The moment
of my infamy was near, and I was done.
Except I wasn’t. (Don’t worry, though,
I’ve made provision for my legend!)
The fools could scarce have been more sorry.
They feared my lovely accent and my silk
and cashmere blend. But they didn’t see my eyes.
The one and only place they should have looked.

It became a much-requested story. A kind of
greatest hit. How they had me down the nick,
those turgid coppers with their strict
adherence to the book. Honestly, it’s better
every night I tell it. I manage to extract
an extra hint. And if you’d ever heard it
twice, you’d notice there’s another detail
added to the crime - something that I wouldn’t

likely know - something not reported at the time. A little bonus portion, if you like. You’d gulp
it down, I think. But truths would pass you by.
You’d be looking at my mouth, and not
my eyes. Not my eyes. Not my eyes.
But if you looked. If you looked too long ...

Comments