Poetry

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
The Ideal Star-Fighter

I

Now a slight meniscus floats on the moral
pigment of these times, producing
displacement of the body image, the politic
albino. The faded bird droops in his
cage called fear and yet flight into
his pectoral shed makes for comic
hysteria, visible hope converted to the
switchboard of organic providence
at the tiny rate of say 0.25 per cent
"for the earth as a whole". And why
go on reducing and failing like metal: the
condition is man and the total crop yield
of fear, from the fixation of danger; in
how we are gripped in the dark, the
flashes of where we are. It pays to be
simple, for screaming out, the eye
converts the news image to fear enzyme,
we are immune to disbelief. "If there
is danger there ought to be fear", trans-
location of the self to focal alert, "but
if fear is an evil why should there be
danger?" The meniscus tilts the
water table, the stable end-product is dark
motion, glints of terror the final inert
residue. Oriental human beings throw off
their leafy canopies, expire; it is
the unpastured sea hungering for calm.

II

And so we hear daily of the backward
glance at the planet, the reaction of
sentiment. Exhaust washes tidal flux
at the crust, the fierce acceleration
of mawkish regard. To be perceived with
such bounty! To put the ring-main of
fear into printed circuit, so that from the
distant loop of the hate system the
whole object is lovable, delicious, ingested
by heroic absorption! We should
shrink from that lethal cupidity; moral
stand-by is no substitute for 24-inch
reinforced concrete, for the blind certain
backlash. Yet how can we dream of
the hope to continue, how can the vectors
of digression not swing into that curve
bounding the translocal, and slip over, so
that the image of suffered love is
scaled off, shattered to a granulated pathos
like the dotted pigments of cygnus?

III

What more can be done. We walk
in beauty down the street, we tread
the dust of our wasted fields. The
photochemical dispatch is im
minent, order-paper prepared. We
cannot support that total of dis-
placed fear, we have already induced
moral mutation in the species. The
permeated spectra of hatred dominate
all the wavebands, algal to hominid.
Do not take this as metaphor;
thinking to
finish off the last half-pint of milk,
look at the plants, the entire dark dream outside.

JH PRYNNE
@version @Linebaugh @shiels what does this mean?
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
See, I'm instantly wondering what he means rather than "experiencing" it. Unless wondering what it means is part of experiencing it.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
I think he's talking about technological progress destroying the planet, mushing minds and reactionary politics.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
It's a typical Prynne experience in that you can get a vague sense of what he's driving at but any individual line will be impossible to unpack. What is a moral pigment and why might a meniscus be floating on it? WhaT is the politic albino? Why is he being so obtuse?
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
What does any of it have to do with a star-fighter? Is a star-fighter a spaceship? Is it entropy? What's the ideal of either of those things?
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
The media environment placing us, in a kind of disembodied way, in a translocal context, or not just the media but the actual global infrastructure, political and economic and cultural. And the moral mutation engendered thereby. Not where your foot treads, the dust you breathe, some larger and more abstract context. Too large to encompass. Too large to act within and make a difference,
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
More here, just for confusions sake

 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
I


He would drink by himself
And raise a weathered thumb
Towards the high shelf,
Calling another rum
And blackcurrant, without
Having to raise his voice,
Or order a quick stout
By a lifting of the eyes
And a discreet dumb-show
Of pulling off the top;
At closing time would go
In waders and peaked cap
Into the showery dark,
A dole-kept breadwinner
But a natural for work.
I loved his whole manner,
Sure-footed but too sly,
His deadpan sidling tact,
His fisherman’s quick eye
And turned observant back.


Incomprehensible
To him, my other life.
Sometimes on the high stool,
Too busy with his knife
At a tobacco plug
And not meeting my eye,
In the pause after a slug
He mentioned poetry.
We would be on our own
And, always politic
And shy of condescension,
I would manage by some trick
To switch the talk to eels
Or lore of the horse and cart
Or the Provisionals.


But my tentative art
His turned back watches too:
He was blown to bits
Out drinking in a curfew
Others obeyed, three nights
After they shot dead
The thirteen men in Derry.
PARAS THIRTEEN, the walls said,
BOGSIDE NIL. That Wednesday
Everyone held
His breath and trembled.


II


It was a day of cold
Raw silence, wind-blown
Surplice and soutane:
Rained-on, flower-laden
Coffin after coffin
Seemed to float from the door
Of the packed cathedral
Like blossoms on slow water.
The common funeral
Unrolled its swaddling band,
Lapping, tightening
Till we were braced and bound
Like brothers in a ring.


But he would not be held
At home by his own crowd
Whatever threats were phoned,
Whatever black flags waved.
I see him as he turned
In that bombed offending place,
Remorse fused with terror
In his still knowable face,
His cornered outfaced stare
Blinding in the flash.


He had gone miles away
For he drank like a fish
Nightly, naturally
Swimming towards the lure
Of warm lit-up places,
The blurred mesh and murmur
Drifting among glasses
In the gregarious smoke.
How culpable was he
That last night when he broke
Our tribe’s complicity?
‘Now, you’re supposed to be
An educated man,’
I hear him say. ‘Puzzle me
The right answer to that one.’


III


I missed his funeral,
Those quiet walkers
And sideways talkers
Shoaling out of his lane
To the respectable
Purring of the hearse…
They move in equal pace
With the habitual
Slow consolation
Of a dawdling engine,
The line lifted, hand
Over fist, cold sunshine
On the water, the land
Banked under fog: that morning
I was taken in his boat,
The screw purling, turning
Indolent fathoms white,
I tasted freedom with him.
To get out early, haul
Steadily off the bottom,
Dispraise the catch, and smile
As you find a rhythm
Working you, slow mile by mile,
Into your proper haunt
Somewhere, well out, beyond…


Dawn-sniffing revenant,
Plodder through midnight rain,
Question me again.
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
My soul was an old horse
Offered for sale in twenty fairs.
I offered him to the Church--the buyers
Were little men who feared his unusual airs.
One said: 'Let him remain unbid
In the wind and rain and hunger
Of sin and we will get him--With the winkers thrown in--for nothing.'

Then the men of State looked at
What I'd brought for sale.
One minister, wondering if
Another horse-body would fit the tail
That he'd kept for sentiment-
The relic of his own soul--
Said, 'I will graze him in lieu of his labour.'
I lent him for a week or more
And he came back a hurdle of bones,
Starved, overworked, in despair.
I nursed him on the roadside grass
To shape him for another fair.

I lowered my price. I stood him where
The broken-winded, spavined stand
And crooked shopkeepers said that he
Might do a season on the land--
But not for high-paid work in towns.
He'd do a tinker, possibly.
I begged, 'O make some offer now,
A soul is a poor man's tragedy.
He'll draw your dungiest cart,' I said,
'Show you short cuts to Mass,
Teach weather lore, at night collect
Bad debts from poor men's grass.'
And they would not.

Where the
Tinkers quarrel I went down
With my horse, my soul.
I cried, 'Who will bid me half a crown?'
From their rowdy bargaining
Not one turned. 'Soul,' I prayed,
'I have hawked you through the world
Of Church and State and meanest trade.
But this evening, halter off,
Never again will it go on.
On the south side of ditches

There is grazing of the sun.
No more haggling with the world....'
As I said these words he grew
Wings upon his back. Now I may ride him
Every land my imagination knew.
 
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