The Intruders

Unneighbourly, without a knock,
two uninvited visitors turn up
at any hour of day or night,
on their own self-issued warrants.

I have no way to keep them out.
Fox slithers in where curtains brush the wall
with dark crooks of shadow.
Glints in the mirror show when the angel’s calling.

The eyes of both these droppers-in
are bright with purpose and resolve.
They mean to take me through my weaknesses,
and make a meal of how I get things wrong.

High ideals and shifty sophistries
tangle in my living room
as each one rattles on. In turn, they sound
cunning and supercilious.

The angel’s object is to sermonise,
proclaiming that with self-belief
the sky’s the limit, and his manual
has precedents to prove this true.

Ambitious and Olympian,
he urges me here, there and everywhere
to go for gold, advice outrageously
misguided and quixotic.

The fox’s style is semi-promises
disguised in quarter-truths, together with
fine-spun assertion, hollow formulae,
and the scent of innuendo.

He knows I’m windy, guarded, tight.
‘What’s missing in your life,’ he says, ‘is risk,
with its sweet and sour adrenaline
and red rush of addiction.

Forget the stratosphere and find yourself
a down-to-earth casino where the chips
stack high and plentiful
and you can rig the odds.’

Glib and dubious the pair of them,
and yet their patter is hypnotic.
Once they’ve got into the swing,
it’s hard to tear away.

– David Morphet 2010