A Politician’s Conscience

Urban legend had it sequestered
in underground storage, protected
with keycodes and failsafes,
enwreathed with more protocols
than the launch codes
on a nuclear sub. That, or packed
in an unmarked crate and stored
in a restricted-access facility,
between some artefact of biblical
provenance and a child’s sledge
with the word Rosebud
painted on it in faded script.

But I found it in an alleyway
between a benefit office
and a food bank, the kind
of cut-through you’d take care
to avoid if you wanted your face
leaving alone; if you wanted
your wallet to remain in your pocket.
It was wrapped in a week-old copy
of the Daily Mail and dumped
behind a skip, like the products
of a back street surgical procedure
badly botched and non-refundable.

It was a mess. I felt like heaving
as I peeled back the newsprint
but then I realised what it was
and why they’d got rid of it.
That’s when I heard the engines
and sirens, men shouting orders
and the growling of dogs. That’s
when the chopper stabbed its beam
into backyards and gardens. I took off
at a run and haven’t stopped since.
I keep thinking of Pandora’s box
and the one thing left, but I might
be wrong. They’re closing in.

Neil Fulwood has published three collections with Shoestring Press, ‘No Avoiding It’, ‘Can’t Take Me Anywhere’ and ‘Service Cancelled’. A collection of political satires, ‘Mad Parade’ has just been published by Smokestack Books. Neil lives and works in Nottingham. Read other articles by Neil.