BALLAD OF THE CINEMATOGRAPH ACT
it was February, I think.
a cool evening
“cinema for the sinners!”, they called it,
screening on the sabbath
like some kinematic-anarchist
daring to show a film on a Sunday
soaking London Bridge
with a tsunami of
cinematic sin in attic rooms
for the unwelcome
I told them the brigade should extinguish fires,
They told me the brigade could extinguish
whatever it bloody well pleased.
flames are twofold
to The National Council of Public Morals;
igniting blistered nitrate and
inciting inflammatory thought;
which I have now committed.
their definitions fastly penned
and bent to defend the ones in charge.
the joy of rewriting unwritten law,
is that you get to make it up from scratch.
three legs fizz
in a spill of melting celluloid
crimsoned reels bubble
and burst on my eyelids
my fingers burn
at the touch of a crumbling lens
and the council knocks the door down.
Accordingly they prosecute
my accordion, and confiscate
the undertaker’s favourite film.
From penny gaff to sterling courthouse overnight,
All for a few feet of comedy
On the wrong day of the week.
the flames of Sunday had spread.
Three fires In my borough,
With a pious hosepipe
secreting liquid morality
Quelling the heat
And the shouts
And the laughter-
Each penny-picturehouse was alight
only with the flare from A dusty projector,
a crowded room,
And naked phantoms
writhing across the wallpaper.
I wasn’t the first to break the rules.
Only the first to kick up a fuss,
Enough that they’d enforce it
in pen and ink.
The heat never bothered us before.
It didn’t feel like burning;
More like a bonfire of broken images
That kept us warm
For the night.