If Picabia Had Spun Above Zelażna Street by Ben Borek

… to be sung

Oh you maddened machine
no your face isn’t clean
in the traffic soot breeze-
you’re a relic

And the dirt on your face
is a wilful disgrace
from an affluent blip
in aesthetics

All the marks of your pox
as you sit in your box
are alight and they glow
with kinetics

But your dwellings are high
and it’s only my eye
trained on high that can see
for you’re fading

Dwindling out through the mist
made of rain and the grist
of your dreams and your thoughts
of mechanics

But your makeup is bone
you can’t leave it alone
though you cling to and sing

« All our progress is clear
to a seer up here
in my plane, with my brain
revolutions ! »

« And Fillipo is sure
that we’ve opened the door
to the new, to the future,
frenetic! »

But the groundwork is rusty,
Dear Witness, please trust me,
and its history differs
in chapters

And the building’s too grey
(not the view of the bay
where he frothed and he frolicked,

Revolution is plain
but the truth is insane
and inhuman and no

So he fell from the rafters
he got his just afters
and below in the Red Hog
they knew this.

(In the candle-waxed light,
in the tones of the night:
“You should paint what you see
with your conscience”

“All your energy’s fine
but employ it at times
when your free to be frivolous,

“See, your aeroplane’s wrecked
just as bad as your neck
and a Futurist’s future
is over!”)

1. The Red Hog (Pod Czerwonym Wieprzym), now a communist-themed pub, was once the headquarters for the Warsaw underground resistance.

2. Francis Picabia apparently liked to spin around in a prototype aeroplane cockpit on the roof of his building in the south of France.

Ben Borek lives in South London. His first book Donjong Heights was described by Toby Litt in Time Out as ‘truly fantastic and wholly unexpected’.