The big guy's face already cut,
A third man watching for police,
And here I come, cycling up
Too late to hear the poet read

His stuff at the City Gallery,
Right next door to where these two
Are beating each other bloody—
That was the scene. What could I do?

I called the cops. They came, the guys
Were gone, I stayed to hear my friends
Read poems to each other, tried
To like the smug competence

Of the work displayed around us—
Old machine parts made into Grails,
Each brassy, solid chalice
An accusation that we've failed—

Paintings of factories and trains,
All soot and dirt, black and white
And lifeless grey—a jet plane's
Nose hung with helmets—blight

And death and misery and war
All made to seem the natural end
Of unnatural means, a dark
We've made and cannot amend—

Shit. That's not why they fought.
One called the other guy a spic.
Or they were friends until one caught
His girlfriend sucking the other's dick.