Born Dead

We come into the world trailing clouds of glory,
red as daybreak and covered in the muck of ages;
lungs inflating, eyes streaming, creation dreams harrowed
from us by the cut cord and the Babel rush of voices;
we live, we breathe, we find our mother's breast.

But I came silently, dead as dirt, dead as a mummy,
swathed in bandages of slime and embalmed in jaundice,
the pandemonium and scurrying mess of panic
attending me as the doctor braced and heaved,
forceps round my unliving head, tugging, tugging.

Born dead, I was born dead, I wasn't born, I was disinterred,
eyes sealed shut, tracery of spindly ribcage unmoving,
I was refused entry, disbarred from joining this mortal coil
so I lay in my mother's flesh, the ghost long given up,
the doctor pulled and the rickety bed collapsed; bang.

That was my arrival - in a crash of rending metal and the
nurse's scream, the virus-yellow neonate grasped by
brutal instruments, the pointy-headed kid, the corpse
unwilling to do as I was told until they flushed my
flattened veins with two transfusions of my father's blood.

Then I screamed: Oh, horrorshow, oh, fury, oh, grief;
yanked from heaven unto the place beneath
not even my blood, thick with whiskey, was my own;
I entered with velocity and the undead's disregard
for the pitiful machinations of the dumb living.

Born dead, yes, I was born dead, the Memento Mori,
the skull tips her top hat and drags on the black cigarette,
the one-eyed norn cries, 'viva la vida!' Sugar bones and
candy guts, death's dance-partner the reluctant maiden,
I am the bang-up undisputed uncanny Queen of the Underworld.

Born dead - what a bonus; born dead - every breath I
pull a gift, every word written a thanksgiving, every line
drawn a silent carbon prayer, every tattoo inked a bloody
valentine, every kiss a quickening, every tear a salty joy;
born dead, I shouldn't be here, born dead,
I shouldn't, shouldn't be here.

But I am.

(c) Joolz Denby October 2007