Wednesday, 27 June 2012


At the chain restaurant (trussed up French), she told me
she hadn't prayed for months. I said I wasn't praying too.

Here's us then, happy that with our bit
of unhappiness revealed,
we're one person closer to a common custom.   

     no instructions or magic patterns to make
     that old old sort disappear

     no holy potion to make us throw
     our own darts into the nothing there
     all smiles

Only the empty glass of average wine,
and the impatience
of the waiters sensing an hour extending.

Nobody ever gets the wage they ought.


  1. Unless our deaths be the wages of sin and our sin thinking the sacrificial glass (holy potion) half average. Or else not even average by half.

    Disenchanted perhaps, yet a continual quest for communion.

    "At the chain restaurant (trussed up French)" -- stunning.

  2. I'm very glad you liked that opening line, TC. The word "trussed" took some time to settle on. It felt a bit icky but it didn't want to go.

    There was some hesitation before posting this (or indeed any poems that deal so directly with matters of faith). What I've written here surprises and unnerves me but this was how it came. I can't disown it.

    I'm never wholly disenchanted (worse luck) but you're right, I am still on the look out for that real coming together. For now, I hang about the back of the Church like some surly teenager.

  3. enjoy your poems!!

  4. Thanks, Sandra. I'm very glad you do.

  5. "we're one person closer to a common custom" -- amen.
    You may not find the muse you're seeking in the pews
    but the wage She finds you: "Here's us then..."
    We lift our glasses too.

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed the "trussed up" and then the poem moving in and out of the colloquial seamlessly. Nobody's sorrow is the greatest.. and yet!

  7. I'm very afraid of slipping into the poetry voice, as if meaning was something we traded in. Any grand words or phrases has best be there for a reason.

  8. The grand majority of writers never stumble upon an interesting phrase no matter how many years they keep at it, more's the pity.

    However there is no call for even the most ascetic of writers to distrust a fine phrase especially when it establishes a tone that pervades the whole work.

    Chain restaurant in proximity to trussed up French brings curious associations.

    In France a long and cruel tradition among gourmands involved the capture, caging, binding, blinding and force-stuffing of a small and entirely innocuous bird, the Ortolan (Emberiza hortulana), which would at the end of this process be drowned in Armagnac, roasted whole and then consumed that way, bones and all in one bite while the diner draped his head with a linen napkin to preserve the precious aromas and, some believe, to hide from God.

    The tradition persisted as late as the famous last meal of François Mitterand.

    The chains which bind and truss us all into a dehumanizing social organization conditioned to cruelty and offering only suffering in return for our fealty makes Ortolans of us all; for this reader there is no escaping the tone thus set, even hiding under a napkin would not do the trick. Thinking upon it would be enough to drive a person to religion. Though France was long thought a religious country.

  9. Following on from your response, TC, it feels to me it's the waiters' gaze we'd be best hiding from. I spend a large part of my life horrified by how easily I slip into complicity and take up the chains for myself and for others.

    I'm finding it easier to trust the good phrases as they come )and let them do their work), but overall, I'm just a babby still.

  10. Was it Sartre who said that God is an inauthentic person who disguises himself as a French waiter so that he can have the pleasure of turning up his nose at anyone who finds a fly in the soup?

    The poor Bunting, and no babies to come from it ever, unless the death of a Head of State could be said to bring forth something, what was it again, the Sleep of Reason, or some sort of monster?

    The titular echo of Christ's words at the Last Supper: "τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν", "Do this in memory of me", gives this poem so many layers of meaning... it's perhaps easier to be led off into the imagined crunching of tiny bird bones, or any one of several strands of signifying that lead out and out... until one can no longer hear the barely audibie sound of the drop of blood dripped into the wine. It seems some are capable of almost anything in order to escape a direct and proper sanctification. (Perhaps there ought to be an Ethics for Readers.)

  11. I've long since felt the service isn't what it was.
    The title took a while to come. One of the associations for me, was the use of the term in some protestant theological texts as a means of calling a stop to the unruly metaphoric play that can sometimes be found at the heart of the Eucharist. You’re right, TC. That drop of blood is crucial (so to speak), disturbing waking reason’s work.

    The matter of memory. Remembering and not forgetting. The question of what memory does is one that keeps pushing me to write.

    I’m more than happy for those other associations to figure. It’s unfinished business when it comes to this stuff. There’s nothing I can resolve upon. There’s a fearfulness for me too; that I might spirit some generative force away. I think that every now and again I’ll have to deal with this stuff head on but I wouldn’t want to be doing it directly all the time.