Archives for the month of: June, 2016

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

— John Donne, from Meditation XII |
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions


There are problems in Dreamland | Shipments | no longer satisfactory | these are the wrong lyrics | no signal | too much noise | the delivery is late | with boxes of words made up entirely | of consonants | the epic | voyage of the vowels | breaks down in the middle | of the first reel | the dragons are faulty | Too many strangers, of course | Your timing is off | and I leave through the wrong door | the walls aren’t high enough | the moat, not deep enough | the vaults are empty | reserves drained | the ingots all turned to air | their ambassadors | are cocky | the rebels | show no mercy | we are made to wear | either a Neptune hat or a Jupiter hat | in the violets and bluebells of Pluto, I | wandered through the gloom of deep woods, you | frolicked through the fire and tears | of raw Mercury, where boiling | was perpetual, and there were | no moons | With our history, we feel | we have somehow slipped | into metaphors of Carnival and Lent | with donkey-headed men | slapping us with smelt or herring | and denizens of mouldy fevers | in volatile and sickly landscapes | queasy with geranium | lava churning | and steam hissing | shit-coloured mud | puckering and plopping | Trees | grow up through the rides | The lovely ghost | haunts the Ghost Train | defrocked priests | bow their weary faces to enamel sinks and spray up water | into vulture or to tortoise eyes | the children are huge | the gamekeeper | holds back Carla on a chain and, shotgun broken in his crooked arm | shouts “Go back!” | The kiosk says “CLOSED” but its door is open | and Mr Octo has a missing nose | the snow | has reduced the bone to syphilitic lace | In their limousines long and smooth | financiers are worried about the copper and the cocoa defaulting on their debt | the buildings | are too expensive to demolish | inflation | is so high the state | cannot afford to pay the printers for | the money that has just been printed | on the notes | explorers and generals stacked on wheels | begin their decay still wrapped in plastic | the incinerator | has a berth for both Churchill and de Gaulle | among others | the dead little girls and boys | hold hands as they queue | slowly we realise | THIS is not THAT | and yet | is, somehow | and they | take selfies outside | the crematorium gates | and you | look so funny in your Neptune hat!

At night, the beggars shake their gold | and dance | beside the fires | these have been good days | Hurricanes | crate the fields above the trees | paedophiles | slip back under the flattest stones and the lids of pans on cast iron ranges | their tentacles curl and slither | just the tips | The house | smells of damp and old books | leather-bound | tomes | full of Confucius and Cicero and Mill | there is no | electricity | livestock that is not to be wintered | is slaughtered | and meat is in good supply | I | am third from the left | that’s me | I wear | a Saturn hat | as they ordered | the gaoler is truly | sick of his keys | beware | the transits of Venus in Gemini | the Sun in Gemini | and the indulgent peasants warn again | of the dangers of gluttony and impiety | the smart money | is on the move | the refugees | flee | a treacherous capital | removes or awaits them | or ignores them | the piper | sees clouds where sheep | bleat on the hills | and she forgets the stops and | how to blow | the floodlights | pick out the airship as it glides | down towards the waiting crowds | the incandescent norm | is glimmering hysteria and hyperbole | we are all stars and our heads | shorn | so proud of our manacles as we are | paraded | to independence and liberty | to the promise of a glorious future | all night | the fire guts our temples | the idols reduced to chars | and the sutras to mush | and look! — he’s coming! | the pouch of knives on his belt indicates | that he is a butcher

Beauty must fall. It is just
how it must be. We try to shelter
with hand or mouth love
it could happen at Hed Kandi, @ Pacha,
usually at Rouge but
it is like blossom and it must flower, that is
its form of passing grace.

I call this poem Constructed because
before this, it was not.
Like an igloo from the snow,
like a word from silence
it is raised. But
it is not a dwelling,
and we cannot stay here,
not even for a moment.
Nothing, indeed, dwells here, yet
it is not ghostly, and not a ruin,
no more than a kiss or a moment of sympathy
haunts or fails, lingers or falls.

The ache is terrible, sometimes, and sometimes, literally,
unbearable. Who loves seeks to hold,
that’s natural, and tries in squirming reaches
to protect with caressing this
that other life,
combing lice from our children’s hair,
recording a casual message on voicemail,
making electric shelter
for syllables, for what
is more fragile than a human voice?

My sorrow at this time — November, 2002 —
is dimensionless, and I cannot bear
the news of suffering, the way we grow
cannibal with necessity.
So much beauty will go down, it is like the Greeks
or Nagasaki, like Stalingrad in winter.
One must be formal with such wasting,
find a ceremonial container,
and to the ceremony and the form adhere —
cling, really, when the new dying begins.

An electrocuted bull kneels, its blood
still moving inside it, and the tapeworm
survives in the gut. And it
is like this — we found it
endlessly. Once built, what can a tower do
but fall? Once spoken, what can a word be
but silence? And yet,
I call this poem Constructed
and it suspends
the fall of beauty as nothing.

Where is the ground of our glance, our eyes
moving on a moving page?
Show me it. Where is the base
of thought, where is the home of silence?
And how can a love be sheltered
when the sheltering hands and mouths
themselves are homeless, where they want to be?

Forgive me for the hardness of this poem,
it is difficult to write of such things.
Certain things can be said simply; others cannot.
I write this humbly, wanting to be honourable,
and without affectation — bare, essential, like rain.

Then let me be explicit.
If our foundations are in power, control,
exploitation, possession, material mastery,
this poem will not be constructed,
and silence will roam here
among swaying weeds.

False power is greedy and despises
moments. And it dwells here in Constructed,
evicting the truth. It is unjust:
it is like Kafka’s mole, endlessly
at risk, imprisoned
in the very place devised for its security.

Does the tyrant trust his own bodyguard?
The tyrannical, towering aspiration
to dominate and to endure like light
against the fluttering moths of lovers’ hands,
and night wings of soft voices,
is doomed like this:
power so conceived must fall —
how could it not? —
founded as it is
upon us — founded as it is
upon others.

But I ask again:
where is the ground of our glance, our eyes
moving on a moving word?
Show me. Where is the foundation of a love?
In this hand? In that hand? In this way,
or that? In my desire? Or in your desire?
Or in desiring, which like the wind
is seen in its effects, but never seen?

I ask, for the first time:
where is the ground of our glance, our eyes
restless on a restless word?
Show me. Where is the foundation of this love?
Recall: this poem is called Constructed.
May beauty rise with it.
And may it be a beauty of yours.

Show me.