Herlihy’s Reptile Collection
Georgian crowds bound to him, pondering
a vision: rings of people floating in orbit.
His mind died in damp fog – grey as ashtrays;
croaked, from a throat hollowed brittle
by fags and joints
smoked in a bar, in New York, South Tyneside.
Reborn, at four fifteen, on the cusp of light:
a solitary skink in a tank, in a tower,
in New York, South Tyneside.
Hidden under Shields’ sand,
weaned by electric heat: carefully.
A boy, blond, gawped through glass
blurred and twisted, like mutant pink.
In a tank, in a tower
near New York, South Tyneside.
Skink imagined a birth
pressed out in sharp quartz sand
beneath warm tobacco leaves
mottled, like the Seven Stars floor,
stubbed out fag-end burns,
a tracheotomy’s troublesome stoma
his cigarette holder: raw stingers
void his voltage, and scale a suit
crumpled to second thoughts
that scabbed a doubt:
sky is a strip
of electric light,
slung above a bucket.