Self-Conscious Sestina


“Morning, sexy,” said God
one morning in the bathroom mirror.
“You’re a beautiful soul,
would you like to watch television? Robot
Wars is on.” But then the thought of TV
started him self-consciously whimpering.

And if you’ve heard God whimpering
like the movement of time itself, God
it makes you want to break a TV
for bad luck, select a piece of the mirrored
glass and self-harm. He sounds like a robot
would sound if they gave it a soul.

God wondered whether the soul
could leave the body by whimpering.
He made a voice like a robot
with a bad German accent. “Hallo my namen iss God.
What iss your oh-pin-yon Mister Mirror?”
Babestation whispered on the TV.

God was asked once on TV
what he thought about the erosion of the soul
but he was too busy trying to mirror
the body language of his interviewer. Whimpering
in the audience did little to distract God
and he proceeded to do his funny robot

impression. People don’t like to hear a robot
that sounds like God, especially on TV,
but every time this occurs to God
it’s already too late. He’ll be in the bath whispering Soul
Man by Sam & Dave or whimpering
self-consciously in the bathroom mirror.

It’s sad when you realise the bathroom mirror
is your only friend. “Zee verld off zee robot
vill begin not viz a bangs but a vimpering.”
God watched himself on TV
playing his part in the corrosion of the soul.
He could hear shouting outside: “WHAT! NEXT! GOD!”

Whimpering, I read my poem to God
live on TV. I said “sestinas are for robots.”
He prayed for my soul in his dressing-room mirror.

Previously published in 3:AM Magazine.

Matt Shoard edits Fleeting and teaches at the University of Kent.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “John Lennon, opium houses.”