Peter Daniels' 'Natural History Museum'

Natural History Museum

I wish Lord let me be nervous again, as confidence makes them wary,
and please make me meek — as if it could make them love me —
but for now I want to shout Fuck and my tone may be unsympathetic,
though I don’t have the accent for street ranting.

I don’t live like that either, I do enjoy a steady job and comforts.

I wish to propitiate the Ilford Mammoth.
I’d pray to refashion the instruments of peace,
be famous for it: I’ll be dead soon enough  
and they say you can’t take it with you.
You’ll be dead, too, and then you’ll be sorry:
we shouldn’t throw away our advantages.

Today, I wish to be as unknown as yesterday,
yet never unhappy with my broken trumpet,
even now I know that it’s mine:
I grew up thinking it’s others that are chosen,
I’m not the one that must break the instrument, then
twist it back into tone.

I wish to kneel at the rail of the exhibit.

The Mammoth is depicted walking up the High Road
in front of a double decker bus its own size. I ask
do they do this as a postcard, they suggest I suggest it.

They do a postcard of fleas in Mexican costume.

I am moved to set out East, to undertake the sacred journey.
At Seven Sisters I’ll buy a ticket for Seven Kings,
to visit the spot where it fell, twisting and trumpeting.
The Borough will have a file on it, there may be a plaque.

I shall keep my feet off the seats, and leave no belongings on the train.

I wish to make the fulfilled pilgrim’s return, purged and serene.

*Peter Daniels publications: pamphlet Mr Luczinski Makes a Move (HappenStance, 2011); first full collection Counting Eggs (Mulfran) and translations of Vladislav Khodasevich (Angel Books) both due in 2012. Website:

'Natural History Museum' was runner-up in Tabla competition and first appeared in the magazine of the same name.  It will be published in Counting Eggs (2012)

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