Peter Hammill - "...all that might have been..." 2014

  1. ...all that might have been...


  2. ...all that might have been...

    
    In overview the light expired
    and with it went the narrative he'd always craved.
    She'd told him once she'd give him
    everything he ever needed or his heart desired...
    now the darkness descends, that's the gift she gave.
    
    (One of them is for the chop,
    one of them assured to flame,
    one of them is bound to drop
    and they'll not meet again)
    
    
    So the last time that he saw her
    he didn't know quite where to look,
    taking it for granted she was on her way...
    there was no future calling,
    no winning tricks remained in play.
    
    It was the last time that they'd meet
    and even though he knew this was goodbye for good
    he couldn't tell her,
    just couldn't find the words to say.
    
    What's done is done,
    but nothing's really over
    till she walks away.
    
    
    He never wanted to belong,
    longed only to behold.
    He felt so strongly all along
    he never could stand to be told.
    
    He played his hand out flippantly
    but couldn't hide the tell
    his love was free and consequentially
    the story's priced to sell.
    
    
    And as for him he's not quite sure
    he's worked his passage here entirely blamelessly.
    She told him once his fate
    could turn around upon a sixpence
    but the light's gone down, time and tide is up
    and the money shot's no longer there to see.
    
    Now the darkness comes
    and that's the only thing he'll ever get for free.
    
    
    There was nowhere special to go
    and so they drove round in circles,
    hoping somehow to channel the flow
    of a night that's frozen in tempo:
    slow, slow, slow.
    
    
    The Piper smile plays on her lips
    and holds him in an iron grip
    that promises so much if he'll just stay.
    
    Inklings, darling, dark inklings are arcing 
    through the links between the lines.
    
    And caught up in the moment
    he's so eager to receive the gift she gives
    but her smile does not betray
    what she might give away.
    
    
    He never wanted to belong,
    his hopes were all on hold;
    before too long he was been and gone.
    He never wanted to be told,
    he never wanted to be told.
    The story's set to stay unsold.
    
    Home,
    he can't get home.
    
    
    This might have happened 
    and all that might have been.
    
    If this hadn't happened
    all that might not have been.
    
    This might have happened 
    and all that might have been.
    
    
    Inklings, darling, inklings of the darkening times
    are running through the runes she's redesigned.
    
    Inklings, darling, dark inklings
    are arcing in the space behind her eyes.
    
    He likes this town,
    the air is clear, the crime discreet
    and he could fit in here a treat
    someday.
    
    He likes this place,
    the streets well swept, the slates all clean,
    he'll fit in with a fresh routine
    someday.
    
    He'd buy a suit,
    he'd clip his nails and comb his hair,
    he'll fit in here for sure, he swears
    someday.
    
    He likes this town,
    the air is clear, the crime discreet
    and he could fit in here a treat
    someday.
    
    And there it was, he'd met his match,
    caught in distraction as she snatched
    the keepsake from his hand and she's away.
    
    And the Piper Smile's beginning to erase identity
    and the Piper Smile says she's not really here
    and nor is he.
    
    
    Be careful what you wish for
    in case it breaks your heart.
    How artlessly he gasped in consternation
    as he pricked his thumb upon love's poison dart.
    
    He filtered out the static,
    he battened down the hatch
    but an itch came crawling all along the surface of his calm demeanour
    and he's powerless to hold back from the scratch.
    and his temper's triggered, there's no safety catch.
    
    
    Fresh out of the starting gate,
    bent on the shadows,
    bent on a night of escapade.
    
    Out of the corner of his eye
    something once bright now dim:
    an alien clock is locked onto him.
    
    So he keeps his attention close,
    cloaked deep in silence,
    knowing that any fear that he shows will quickly have him ripped apart.
    
    Could it be just a game? No,
    he keeps a measured tread up although
    right now they call his name, oh, 
    how'd they ever know that? And so
    now they're blocking the path.
    
    And he's in trouble here, he already knows he's in trouble here.
    
    What's done has been done.
    Hung to dry in Kabuki-cho,
    left for dead beside the Golden Gai
    as his head explodes with treasure trove,
    no-one knows just what truth he has come here to hide
    as he's spied in the red light zone,
    legs are spread behind the neon signs.
    There were threads of gold, the stories told
    but no-one knows if he's ever going to make it out alive.
    
    Was it just bad timing or some fundamental show of disrespect
    that's brought him here?
    
    Hung to dry in Kabuki-cho,
    he's made his bed beside the Golden Gai
    as his head explodes the question's posed,
    no-one knows just what truth he has come here to buy.
    Wonder why he choked, he was in full flow
    what he said denied his heartfelt cries
    and instead he knows his cover's blown;
    but no-one shows quite how useless the excuse is this time.
    
    If you step into somebody's house
    don't be too eager to assume you can keep on your shoes.
    Better take off those shoes.
    
    
    Drifting through the different cultures,
    one licked finger in the air
    to check what's changed and what's unchanging...
    to some surprise the circle's squared.
    Deep down below the currency
    a current runs of which he's unaware.
    
    Can't turn about,
    might not get out this time.
    
    He plays it devil-may-care
    but he's not going anywhere.
    
    
    Washed up from some Absolute Elsewhere,
    of what was what he had no clue.
    Whistling in the dark to keep his spirits up,
    he hadn't thought the whole thing through.
    
    Hustling to the darker side of town,
    suddenly cut adrift from the life he knew,
    he's doing his best to keep his profile in the shadows
    but the spotlight shines out of the blue.
    
    Taken for a German,
    he was taken for a ride,
    he was bundled in the taxi
    and he stumbled out the other side.
    
    
    The rumpled sheets are soiled
    and dawn's boiled up in a fog of poison spores.
    If he wanted to give her anything at all it's too late now.
    She's ready to open him up,
    she's ready to teach him a lesson.
    Time to be slow.
    
    Clearly, how the story unfolds
    here and now could be sweeter.
    She moves her thumb to the front of his throat.
    He lies stock still underneath her,
    slow, slow, slow.
    
    
    It had seemed like a pretty fool-proof plan
    but this time one and one don't add up to two.
    Outside the cone of light the time's got warped
    and the chain of logic's come unglued.
    Whistling in the dark he goes to pieces...
    he never thought the whole thing through. 
    
    
    He never wanted to belong,
    longed only to behold.
    He felt so strongly all along
    he never wanted to be told.
    
    And he can't get home.
    
    
    Be careful what you wish for
    it's breaking like a seventh wave.
    He stands stock still in dread anticipation,
    for after all the wishes are washed away,
    for after all the wishes we're washed away.
    
    
    Taking the back road to the airport
    wasn't such a bright idea.
    He could have come so badly unstuck
    but his luck held out and he's in the clear.
    
    This might have happened 
    and all that might have been.
    
    Ascud below, before him,
    the landscape slowly flows.
    It follows that he'll follow
    however it unfolds.
    
    If this hadn't happened
    all that might not have been.
    
    His head among the passing clouds
    holds on to what he's got
    unable to remember what
    it was that he forgot.
    
    This might have happened 
    and all that might have been.
    
    
    Not for the first time,
    nor probably the last,
    he's diving deep down, all his senses overblown
    in the transit zone.
    He's all alone this time.
    
    There's not a moment to waste
    and yet he's frozen on the spot
    by his own self-doubt,
    can't turn about,
    might not get out this time.
    
    One telephone call's his right
    but while he's ordering his thoughts into a thread
    the line goes dead
    and he's not headed anywhere.
    
    
    So the last time that he saw her
    he didn't know quite where to look,
    his stomach churned under the basilisk gaze
    and so he's burning until he turns away.
    and still he burns until she turns away.
    
    Until he turns away,
    until he turns
    she stays.
    
    (And the story isn't done
    until the hook's been played.)
    
    


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Sergey Petrushanko hammillru@mail.ru, 1998-2017