Saturday, 11 May 2013

Bus note 53

Today’s dry with shadow trees
        on red brick
        on white stucco.
In a friend’s delicate throat
something is growing.
        Morning. A nakedness.
An HB pencil in hand.
        Write in careful letters:
        Fuck off, bloom.
Silvery scratches in broken-up light.


  1. The friend from this Bus note, who had a pre-post gander at the poem, made mention of the many fine examples of red brick Victorian buildings to be found in Birmingham. One or two examples can be found here.

  2. some days ago I watched City Tour a chilean tv program about that and they showed some images from your country I am not sure what city was it...all so neat ....very nice...your words are enigmatic too...!

  3. I can't imagine it was Birmingham, Sandra. We've some good architecture but we're a little rough around the edges! I do have a strong affection for the Brummagen Terracotta. When I see that shade of red elsewhere I think of home.

  4. Shall always remember this one as the bus note etched in HB pencil.

    It's those hard "k" sounds, etched against the backdrop (visual imagination) of the shadowy/spidery grey cobweb faintness of anything writ in HB (losing my eyesight, can't write with or read the marks of anything finer than No. 2 any more).

    delicate throat
    A nakedness.
    An HB pencil
    scratches broken

    Much is conveyed in these notes by the architecture of sound. Here it's that iterated sense of the crack'd and brittle; of the note being or having been painfully inscribed -- incised would perhaps be the better word. Cut by something hard into an ungiving surface. The scratchiness, an irritability. Yet not quite (quite yet) a fracture.

    After a third reading of the poem would have been tempted to be troubled by the question of what is growing in a friend's delicate throat had not the first reading of the useful first comment then helpfully chased off that distracting spectre, or shall I call it a projection (we are at that stage of organic distrust here currently). At any rate, a relief, in a private and thus irrelevant way.

    And do forgive the wild association (confession of common readership), but couldn't help hearing the penultimate line as a sort of overheard Joycean domestic injunction, something Molly might conceivably have said to Leopold during or after some minor squabble. Was it J. S. Mill who suggested lyric speech ought properly to sound eavesdropped-upon?

    Sorry about that... but it did send the addled imagination off an image of Bloom with his notebook on Dublin bus. (Yet another city in your country.)

  5. I'm afraid the troubling question was close to it. The friend is waiting treatment for throat cancer.

    Jimmy Joyce came into the head when I wrote the 9th line. I tried a few variations but came back to where I began. Not sure if they have an Outer Circle in Dublin but I like the thought of Bloom skirting Dear Dirty Dublin pencil in hand.

  6. Uh-oh. I had hoped to be mistaken. But as I say -- at our stage, one is too often not mistaken about such things.

    Much sympathy for your friend, Duncan.

  7. Thanks, Tom. Will pass that on.

  8. WB, after reading this great poem and then Tom's comment I feel my throat is full of Ks. I can physically feel them being there. Ks that are different from the ones in your friend's throat (so sorry to hear that. You so delicately bring him/her into the story) in that they can be washed down by a few glasses of Bs or Ds. And I like the image of someone writing something as strong as fuck off in the careful, gentle way you describe. Nice and unaffordable, unattainable contrast (for me at least).

  9. Thanks, Marie.

    It may be the difficulty in looking at these things head on that made for the carefulness.