New Series No. 20 - 2002
I was riding on a bus in which
everyone was crazy.
Lunatics, wholly, every one. I’m not
indulging in facile hyperbole, shameful
to discover in the language of a poet
thoroughly dedicated to the mining of ontology
as I. But all of them were, quite frankly,
not firing on all cylinders.
Prudently lighting upon their perches,
their eyes turned toward nothingness.
They talked as one, each separately
to someone conjured, ghosted
and they reeked of neglect.
One guy, a ponytail and rings on every finger
was bending the driver’s ear.
A genteel yet toothless mouth
transmuted a buoyant stream
of curious, opaque witticisms
into a juicy jumble. The orator,
mind you, had no idea.
Aligned on the corner cusp
sat his neighbour, swinging a shoe.
He directed his gaze out the window,
struck a stately pose, and proclaimed
to someone out there: “It’s all too simple
to merit deep reflection. Fellow Americans,
you catch my drift? There’s no point
thinking things all the way through.
It’s clear as day. The blind
have no words of wisdom for the deaf.
They don’t lack insight. Everything’s
as plain as the nose on your face.
It’s all known, understood,
and contains the seeds of the end.”
I sat spellbound by the ravings
of the sad philosopher, when an old man,
dozing on the next seat over,
flung open his fly with a handy flourish,
bounded for the door and started to piss
into the night.
We rode on past a park where people stood shouting.
The passengers sat silently.
The next guy over, once black,
was now a moist bouquet of scabs.
Squeaks escaped his swollen face,
and like an idiot, he
scraped it with clumsy stumps,
trying to soothe a febrile itch.
(Thus the resigned wrestler taps out,
blood and tears streaming
into snot from a mangled nose.
But I digress.)
A fifth nut
plagued me with his unrelenting query:
“What’s the time?” “Seven to twelve.”
“Five to twelve.” “Twelve o’clock.”
A banal transaction.
The fool tried to get off the bus,
but was too loaded to find his feet.
That’s how it went down. You won’t squeeze
Anything more from my tale,
No sorry cliché, like,
“The whole world’s a nuthouse.”
No learned words on man’s subordination to nature.
In the end, like pups at the teat
Of a none-too-Roman bitch. No, my two-bit scripto
Was guided by something else entirely:
The aesthete’s inherent desire
To pull the emergency cord and break out the glass.
Translated by Vladimir Bolotnikov Eric Crawford
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The