I'm just hoping that title doesn't bring a whole load of people to this blog who are looking for something very different from poetry! I'm sorry, hardcore people, but blame Michael Hofmann who chose the title. You might like this better in any case.
XXXX is about being 40. But it’s as though the narrator is going through a kind of male menopause! He pisses in bottles, chews longlife food, identifies with a fox, and decides to “spend a wet evening under a tree.”
The images are wacky but not so wacky that they appear unbelievable. He veers near the edge when he writes;
For half an hour, amid palpitations, I watched
two children I was sure were mine.
The humour is dark, the sense of chaos not unfamiliar. Only the radio, which he keeps on as much as his father ever did, gives him a sense of equilibrium and stops the world from sliding away from under his feet.
I loved this poem, while feeling slightly scared by it, maybe because the unstated truths it hints at are rather close to home. My favourite lines are:
I’m forty. I free the jammed light-push with my fingernails
to give the hall a rest.