Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Early Eighties

            While we one way
                              fervent walk
                        in our sodality
                the Trad Jazz band play
        O when the saints
                Sisyphean style.

         In our bit of America
                   the missives 
                     that don't hold back
              will be trembling
                        near to posting time.

        A few days before
        we'd gone up the stairs
        in someone else's house
        with the posters eating in:
                    the girl with cloth patterns
               burnt into her arms
                    the little boy
               with the too heavy head
                    ubiquitous people shadows
               the smashed toyland
                    in greyscale

           It's as clear
                       as melanoma.                           

                              The day the old time siren
                              lullayed across the park
                fear subrosabound
                                  dropped softly on Dad's face
            toxic and gossamer thin.

                     The hem of that grazed us
                                         and sanctified us too.

                          We almost wanted to be goners 
                as our thinking
                         stretching fingers were
            a tip away from a cold
                  and nothing black full stop.


  1. Having grown up in an early Cold War world that was always going to be ending in one minute, the protocols were as familiar to one as prayer: the kneeling under the school desks upon nuns' orders as the daily practise sirens rang out, the tacking-up of blankets over the basement windows at home, the continuous inculcation of the duck-and-cover mentality in preparation for the inevitable and imminent Blast. One measured out on maps with a wooden school ruler one's distance from the presumed epicentre. In the urban density of the place, the target spot was always unnervingly near. A fire engine in the night might be the first warning signal. Concurrently one was assured that all these precautions would be useless in any case.

    A mindset that would linger forever, like a recovered saurian memory.

    Curious that all this angst should in the end have proven irrelevant, the world was going to end in another, unexpected fashion, not with a bang but with billions upon billions of particulate carbon emissions.

    And here we are goners anyway, in this slow, unemphatic way, whimpering through our lame progress toward the self-extermination that the great technologies had always contained within themselves, as a kind of dark promise, concealed germ or insidious infestation.

  2. What you went through in those years is astonishing, far more intense than our experience.

    It's a strange thing that no one knows how to be afraid anymore; no definite end, no big red buttons, but an end nonetheless. You're spot on about what we've got coming to us. Whatever counts for progress now does nothing to make us more human, more autonomous, more loving. It's only the technology that evolves. finding more efficient means of sucking out the sap.

    Throughout those years, my dreams were for the most part set in a world in the wake of the bomb. They have never been quite so vivid since. I'm ashamed to admit that part of me misses the sense of unspeakable drama.

    It must be said, Mum and Dad never saw fit to secure our inner refuge:

  3. The search for the inner refuge may well have been an illusion. But for burrowing animals what other option would ever remain.

    This mesmerizing time-lapse animation of nuclear blasts round the globe reveals the year of your birth to have been a period of intense thermonuclear activity, WB.

    So, erm... happy birthday, then!

    Small wonder one would be psychically marked forever by the reverberations, still legible in introspective cross-sectionings of the wooden stump (dendrochronology).

    In this regard, the great blues singer Albert King's Born Under a Bad Sign leaps to mind. Remembering that you wooden folk appreciate the stylings of Nina S. -- here's her cover version.