Saturday, June 27, 2009

359. The Wreathed Horn

Summon the bells of the morning!
Let them break out, clanging,
across the wetlands and the sullen fields
so that every sentient soul can hear them,
every undeaf spark of life;
and let our people decide, unruly in their beds,
whether they shall answer the call
or read the Sun and Daily Telegraph.

The rain doesn't help,
spitting down on missing absent hedgerows
where useful insects used to live,
doing their little bit for England:
now only the cold rain falls
on a patchwork of green denuded fields,
with a faint rising whiff of chemicals.

Cars whizz by on the M4, the M25,
carrying computer salesmen, fat children,
Social Services ladies in tweed skirts,
and occasionally Prince Charles on his busy way
to prevent some form of architecture.
Slow myopic moles, hasty but unlucky hares,
leave their shattered trusting carcases
on the rainslick roads: hardly any squashed cats,
since these one finds mainly in towns. Now and then,
with a bit more fuss, there are human children.

Such desirable little houses, here and there,
bordered by acacias, gnomes, and mortgages,
as Mr. Next-Door polishes his Bentley in the drive
with a satisfied smirk at your 4-year-old Ford.
Meals have become varied and adventurous
thanks to Sainsburys, Tesco, and the microwave,
but no pigeons come home to roost in the roofs
as the fathers and grandfathers slowly fade away
in their old terraced houses: they are sent off
with economical pomp and ceremony, dead-ending
at cream-white crematoria. Many of these oldies
have a surprising collection of wartime medals.

A different world. A moment to shake your head
before the bloody mobile rings again. Shit.
Here we go back to the real world, a society
we have created and made our own. I can peel
from a roll of fifties, no problem, keep the change,
but you know none of this really means a thing,
you just know you're not really in the game
until you get that call for Breakfast TV.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

358. Inter faeces et urinem nascimur*

How long has it been
dear honey sweetheart
since you had a lovely relaxing
movement, with no straining effort?
O bless you, my dear, was it
healthy, satisfactory?

O my darling ... aha ... ahem!

Celia, said cranky old Jonathan,
Celia shits, by God!! Cringing,
he withdrew: it was still the 18th century.

I am, she is, so we all must have
some thoughtful visits to the loo, perhaps
not a thing to share with friends and lovers,
but a necessary thing to do.

It's nothing. Pooh!
Non, non, paff! de rien!

Just a corollary, a match-me,
to the pleasures of the bed:
entre des Anges et des animaux.

Piss off, pal, or baise mon cul.
She loved you but she never liked you,
saw right through you
and left you, s'il vous plait,
along with the money.

Intimate arrangements
play havoc with the rules
and always have done.

Suzie Q

View Harroooo!!
Gentlemen on horseback. Sly foxes
take mordant pleasure in the hunt
from the ditches of Connemara
to the Allegheny woodlands.

Shaved and eau-de-cologned
I totter past the public toilets
rippling reggae riffs on my drumlike tummy
straining a paisley waistcoat.

If I had a cane I'd flaunt it. Must get one.
This umbrella's no good.

It's nice to have clinking cash in your pockets,
to have folding fivers next to your breast;
it's nice to be out on a bright May morning
watching sweet young girls walking through the park.


* Saint Augustine, party boy turned party pooper: "we are born between faeces and urine". Maybe he should work harder at being dead, settling down, being quiet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

357. Briggsy (rewrite)

Hold hard on the plain, Dan Tremayne,
and don’t you worry. We’ll bring
the roaring guns up here in an instant,
the Royal galloping Horse Artillery.
Stay with me, old man, don’t drift away,
these bloody Boers can’t kill you!

Well, they did, and he died,
and that was no smile upon his lips
but a rictus of sheer agony, a gut shot.
So I went and married his widow
when they sent me back to London Town
and we lived in Ealing Broadway.

She was a blonde and sweet young pullet
quite fond of her port and lemon,
and we’d sit in the back of the Star and Garter
when they'd made me up to Sergeant.
I’d stayed on in the Army, it was a steady billet,
there was no real fear of being sent to India.

We rattled along easily enough
without any trouble from little kiddies,
I’d only need to put her over my knee
once or twice with the end of my belt
and dish out a few whacks, not vicious, like,
just to remind her what was what.

War seemed to be coming on in Ireland
but that was a local thing; the regiment,
in London barracks, would hardly be needed,
so we thought nothing of it. That summer
we went down to Kew and to Richmond
and had a few drinks along the river.

I was coming on to 40, getting old,
but the bouncy-bouncy was as good as ever
when the bloody Germans invaded Belgium.
Within days I found myself in France.
The marching was healthy till we got to Mons,
and there, quite suddenly, the killing started.

Smith-Dorrien, one of our few good generals,
bloodied the Jerries at Le Cateau
while Sir John (a cavalry bastard) fell into a funk
and marched us down the roads to Paris.
He had thoughts of evacuation back to England:
we were so tired and angry, I remember it still.

That frog general, Joffre, he shamed Sir John,
and although never mentioned, you can take that as true.
The orders came down, we reversed our retreat,
and then came the Marne and all that followed.
I can neither think nor talk about all that followed,
some few survived, best pretend it never happened.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

356. Kyrie

Softly the sunlight
filters through
the stained-glass
sturdily lead-lined
medieval windows:
the scarlets, ochres, and azures.
A single lambent ray
now falls, no it points
to the altar and the crucifix.

What is this Judean
criminal doing in France?

The Minister says
we need larger newer windows
displaying gallows and guillotines,
gas chambers, electric chairs,
more progressive engines
of State disapproval.
Tear down these old cathedrals!
They are old, he says: put up slabs
of modern democratic concrete,
and let the falling rain and filth
of the coming years
drip and stain like tears
running through mascara.

Jesus bar Joseph
lived before concrete and barbed wire,
son of his father, a carpenter,
yet we never hear if he was any good
(Sothebys: a chair made by Jesus!!!)
But if he was a useless Mama’s boy
why would Simon and Barnabas, fishermen,
hard-bitten seasoned seagoing men,
why would they listen to him?
Maybe J was the proto-union guy
with a sideline in miracles.

Or it could be the job was boring
for this young Palestinian Elvis,
could be that Mom and Dad were a drag.
People happy or resigned to their work,
people like you, for example, or me,
we rarely start up new religions.
Not that he did, no, that came
centuries later. J was just a local Jew,
born into it, went with the territory.

But this boy had a way with words,
spun a number of catchy parables,
improved the quality of wine at weddings,
showed himself to be a catering genius,
and then rose Lazarus from the dead!
Woo! That was something:
there's a story behind that one.

But he’d ticked off the Pharisees,
and annoyed the local authorities.
A downward slope, the end of hope:
always the same old, same old Middle East.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!

Rome, like imperial America today
didn’t know WTF was going on
and dispensed with Jesus, politically,
just as Ambassador Lodge was to do,
the Pontius Pilate of Vietnam.

Carpe (Mister) Diem.

Wash, wash, wash your hands,
wash your hands, wash your hands.
Wash, wash, wash your hands,
ear-lie in the morning!

Why do the natives bleed so much,
and make such awful noise?

then as now, means
local myopia.

What did Rome think she was doing?
What does America think he or she or it is doing?

I think it doesn’t know what it’s doing.

We’ll get to that. First we need
to work our way through the Middle Ages.
Why? Because it’s there, it gets in the way.

Stunted people, right little shortarses,
Popes and Kings and peasants,
a thousand years of lamentable hygiene,
protracted physical and mental torture:

Well, that should do it.

The world that we know and live in
is formed of myths and the nonsense of the past.
We have learned so little, and we seem intent
on creating even more lurid stark scenarios
to make our transience seem important.

We have become a widescreen stereo movie.

I wouldn’t mind so much if it was a good one
with a little understatement, wit and intelligence,
instead of all the bombast and the bomb blasts,
the adolescent violence, the lust disguised as romance,
but it isn’t. Now smoothtalking TV politicians
indolently, inexpertly, steer the speeding ship
into patiently waiting icebergs.