Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dürer: Six Pillows

Albrecht Dürer Sechs Kissen (Six Pillows), 1493

A pillow-fight-crossword on paper,
two across, three down, each character

is crosshatched, sculpted, made stand
up for itself, a face pulled

and patted, twisted, plumped
tipsy and crumple-drunk

as insomnia (a lamp left on
numbingly bright in the brain)

or it might be impressions left
by three couples who’ve slipped

out for something, their pillows
keeping their talks on hold.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Late Addition To The Lament

The Prince Consort, Edinburgh Book Fair

(for Norman MacCaig, on his birthday)

He has drappit the mirk-daurk craig
on hummle, muckle Norman MacCaig:
wan-fag, twa-fag, at lang-an-last three: ––
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Photo: Statue of The Prince Consort, Edinburgh Book Fair, 2010

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spares (part 3)

The Day That's In It

Two sensations that remain married in my mouth: the delectable shock of the first kiss and the first oyster.

Every parade is asking to be rained on.

The best sex is always close to comedy. Within minutes, seconds, an ominous iceberg melts to a tiny puddle, a drawbridge slaps down on a fort that’s become a bouncy castle, rectitude vanishes, high moral ground hasn’t a hope.  

The gods are born jealous, and will always be shrill and demanding as colicky babies. Attempting to dress them in the grown-up clothes of The Enlightenment always looks silly.

Friday, November 09, 2012

More Spares

Couple Asleep On A Bus, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow
The muddied colours of sleep, the mind mixing its palette.

The veneration for the opaque, hermetically sealed poem suggests a kind of hopeful necrophilia: listening intently for that muffled knocking, the corpse masturbating in its coffin.

On Radio 4, a woman on the joys of wandering naked in a garden with fellow naturists, sniffing the roses, etc. As if, while enacting a reversal of Adam and Eve’s discovery, they should forget to notice each other’s nakedness, forget to notice each other. And that, essentially, is what ‘naturism’ is, dressing for indifference, as if this were, somehow, a virtue.

The oldest ‘profession’ is hardly something as civilised as a prostitute. Instead, try: hunter / torturer / executioner.

Everyone nourishes a secret desire to be owned, my people.

The Poet’s Lounge: the one place where they are obliged, by law, to serve language that’s 100 proof.

That tabloid shriek of disgust –– ‘Animals!’ –– is an unforgivable insult to the whale, the shrike, the hyena.

Human and humane are almost always antonyms.  

Recently I heard a respected scientist declare that he never gives anything to beggars. Ideally, every good scientist is equipped with a well-honed curiosity and a hunger for evidence. To dismiss beggars en masse, on no evidence apart from their status as indigent people, suggests a profound lack of equipment. It is very bad science.

Auden (who sang the praises of the permeable limestone landscape) called poetry ‘memorable speech.’ I think great, or even just good, poems should have at least an element of this; they should resonate in the way that a good song or piece of music does. If they manage this I will forgive them much, including a good deal of impermeability.