No 100 - 1985
from At Southwark Cathedral
The shark survives
Although he doesn’t chatter
Like whales or major in science.
The quality of survival
We’re pickled in our own solution.
The murders we watch on the box
We think we have to do.
History’s watching beside us
The skeleton that knocks
In the pipes is fossiled here inside us.
Is there a leap we’re still not trying?
The dog that groans in travail on the floor
Is waiting for me,
Whimpering and sighing,
And feeling unspeakably more
Not less than I,
As he twitches with loving fear.
I’m always saying goodbye.
He’s always here.
Whisky’s a risky aspect of the Body:
A distilled divine. All sacraments are dangerous.
Ecstasy can booze you to the Devil -
The Dog of God: Deus est diabolus
Inversus: the Hounds both hunt the World
As a team (see Job) and often it’s the Dog who pads
With the prey to God. Whisky killed my dear
Old dad and that’s what drove my mother mad.
Death’s certainly the alcoholic’s mother:
Those first erotic bubblings at the bottle
Or breast are gaspings of our love of Her
Or Him or Both, all Three, met shuddering as we rattle.
How long will it be before we find Cockayne
Where the whisky rivers flow, so stilly flow,
Like every poison from the flesh of God,
With peaty water, heart of gold, an amber glow?
Somewhere there’s a man who took me fishing
And kept me sane. I don’t even
Remember his name. Stephen…
Some saint’s name: unintellectual, observant, well-wishing.
This useless work has risks. Near to splitting,
Rilke thought his grit in loneliness came
From glassy evenings in Capri, all the same,
With two old dears, in a deck chair, watching them knitting.
One of them sometimes had an apple to pass.
A tiny ugly dog with sorely swelling boobs
Craved for his eyes in its solitude. The sugar cube
He gave it was a wafer in a private Mass.
Perhaps those childish ecstasies of terror
When midnight pulsed on midnights of blind hate
And vampires hung behind the stirring curtains
Alert for childish eyes to close and sleep
Were deaths we might have had, or can anticipate.
How we need to have an expert mother
To sit beside us, spreading unconcern,
And mock the terminal illness in the corridor
And tell us that it’s not our turn:
The custom-built disease has gone next door.
Perhaps in every aged impotent craving
The child we were is still inside us, crying
For a rocking knee, and not believing
What we heard can never be,
Though finding mother’s presence near the sea:
To feel the lift from fifty fathoms
And know annihilating pleasure
Of sea absorbing self in sea, a law
Far greater than the logic
Of non-acceptance on the certain shore.
Invisible reader, impossible God,
There are times we dream you back to being
An irascible blustering Yahveh, haranguing
A gang of bedouin, but not too often.
I try to listen to your presence
Quietly as an astronomer, an absence in the room,
The mother and father I imagined in the dark
When I was sick, who never came.
You’re the pebble on the beach with spread
Arms and a navel, the fearful passage
Past the graveyard, a thorn in the flesh,
The psychiatrist who buggered off while listening,
Yet in spite of everything somehow managing
To see me too in my deliberate vanishing.
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- 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
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- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
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