Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Postcard

                           We’re where we ought
                                                         not to be

                              All along the esplanade
                                               the heavy weather
                                            disregards our
                                                         little faces

                   big waves come       explaining nothing

                             We’re here with the old new sun
                                                         and sandwiches 
                                and cheap spades and the given time
                                            all turned over to misrule

                     On the beach
                             there’s no corners 
                                            where we're hid
                                   There's nowhere
                                                    but the lines 
                                                            are all rubbed out

                                                Our blue and dying anoraks 
                                  Our fresh skin clinging 
                                                  Us as aliens         

                                                                                A great bell is rung
                                                                          some place far off

                           The tree’s green spasms bless ache
                                                                          stain some and then
                                                                she goes back
                                                                                   to her shivers
                                                                 and bent branches
                                              A big shock of fuck off hair

             The counting songs won’t work
                                   with the rain going on and on

                          Each wave does break
                                              all in a tempo still
                                     The sea is not an animal at all  

                                                                  Here’s crashing for

                               the easy yoke

                                              the jokes unstopped 

                                        the tinned cream        

                                                                    the truth of eczema      

                                    the wet, dark slate

                      the old man’s first tongue lost

                                                the near to broken bellowing clock

                               As Taid types praises of Germania
                                                              tiny fingertips make pictures
                                     on the clean white wall      

                                                   Us as kids
                                                              in time
                                                    will come unstuck        



  1. The tree’s green spasms bless ache
    stain some and then
    she goes back
    to her shivers
    and bent branches
    A big shock of fuck off hair


    WB, for me this bit of "heavy weather" evokes -- and renovates! -- the wild inner and outer landscapes of a Brontë poem.

    In a good way.

  2. And
    A great bell is rung
    some place far off

    sounds as the equivalent of a beacon through the rain and mist, opening a spaciousness.

    1. It's a strange thing, that wind and rain can completely transform the sense of space on the shoreline. I guess it scrawls out the horizon.

  3. Yes, for me there's a distance marked with the bell. It had to ring at that place in the poem, one thing at least that isn't blown about.

    You've sent me back to the Brontë's. I'd forgotten the wonder that Emily's poetry is. Wild would be about right.

  4. Yes, the bell absolutely does do that. At once a securing (mooring) of the windblown out-of-bounds mind, and an enlargement of the landscape.

    The old new sun made me think of the lazy old sun in the old Ray Davies lyric. (Young or at least younger when first heard.)

    In this new time there is no time for the old sun to be lazy, though every day it's a bit older. (A problem with which it is no trouble to identify.)

    The spirit of Emily B sometimes does seem to flit about in the attics of your poems, WB. In a good ghostly way, probably none of your doing but to ghosts the wee plans of the living probably could not matter less, they are incorrigibly willful and promiscuous and will flit where they will. Emily's might be imagined to be shivering a bit as it flits above (or more likely straight on through, what is mere meteorology to a ghost) the heavy weather. After all living where she did would have accustomed her to that in any case.

    Thinking I suppose about poems of hers like these:

    "The night is darkening round me"


    1. I'm more than happy for Emily Jane to come a haunting (though I don't remember sending out an invite). That's a great spirit to keep company with.

      "...Clouds upon Clouds... Wastes upon Wastes..." I love the way she piles it all up to an almost unmanageable excess.

  5. The trick with the bell to indicate distance invisibly is done sometimes by the Japanese minimalist masters but for them the absent signified thing would have probably been a temple, while here one senses not so much a chapel off yonder but -- and this is perhaps a bit of a leap, but still we are in a weatherish shoreline poem, where such things may happen -- possibly a ship. Or is all of this too literal, attempting to pin down what is in fact so effective largely because the source of the sound effect cannot be precisely pinned down? Its mystery an echo of its phantom tolling?

  6. Here, translating Chinese via Japanese through notes made in English by a scholar, E. Pound deploys the invisible bell to suggest loneliness, solitude, silence, distance, all proper conditions for meditative experience. Whereas in your poem the bell is the still point at the midst of a whirling chaos of elements; similar yet different.

    Behind hill the monk's bell
    borne on the wind.

    Seven Lakes

  7. It is the still point, I think, but one for which we don't have the coordinates. With the Canto, the bell is hidden but in place.

    I have to admit to a certain enjoyment of that whirling chaos.

  8. There's a draft of a Keats sonnet ("As Hermes once...") in which, writing of the swirl of elements in the Druidic night of storms, he makes one of his wonderful unconscious "slips" and writes "world-wind" instead of "whirlwind".

    (Sometimes, as with "Autumn", his drafts bristle with those double-pun "mistakes" that almost make one think the poem exists in several states, the regularized "finished" version and the intuitive, perhaps half-tranced holograph. One loss with the computer is that the poetry of the handwriting no longer exists... sometimes the hand is a better poet than the brain, perhaps, perhaps. Or should one say "sometimes WAS"?)

  9. I love that a particular body is in some way communicable in handwriting. While I do take notes I find I now struggle to write with a pen for any serious length of time.

    Also, on a PC, with every redraft, great numbers of words are "disappeared", a way of writing out the traces of our labour.

    Those "slips" are always saying something.

  10. The traces of our labour were often all we had to show... or not show... but at least (or best, or worst) they were a reminder that our labour was a part of what as humans we were able to bring to the table of the future. Just that small bit.

    Now I'm going to write wherever my hand leads...

  11. Talking of the joys (and inanities of handwriting), I am urged to reveal what was once my low-tech cottage teaching method.

    This was one of a series, the side links for that period lead to others -- all put up 15 March 2009. From the ruins of the method.

  12. They're great, TC. I loved the appearance of Krazy and Ignatz in Want of an Object. They put me in mind of those palimpsests you find in some manuscripts, filling the available space because the pen and the paper matter.

  13. This poem gets better and wilder each time I read it -- "all turned over to misrule" -- I hear TC's Brontë and also something in the heavy weather setting with a sprechstimme sort of sotto voce German evokes Günter Grass's Danzig. If that isn't too far off.

  14. I like the thought of sprechstimme being somehow at work here. The music's already there in language. In writing this, I felt myself falling in and out of a steadier metrics.