No 6 - 1976
It says that my work is done. Why do I wait
Here on this threshold?
Are there any more words to say? I do not think so.
Those I had did not reach the things I had.
Now on this threshold where I wait for death
To invite me in, I cannot remember my needs.
There are no beggars now, it is absurd for an old man
To stand suppliant even before his memories.
Why imagine what you cannot encompass?
It was not my need, I have none
But the supposed voice of the incorrigible Adam
Who knew Lilith in deep sterility and begot on Eve
Pro-figures of his departed desires
On which the world was built. It bursts out
In thunder and lightning in the following of Adam
And still lours over the horizon. I am not flesh
More than in his dream, the following of Adam
Enacting perilously before my eyes
What I have a part in, though I stand from it
Distant, above two hundred paces, a spectator,
Seeing what I am not and cannot touch,
Being what I want and cannot be.
O gateway! Downwards, I pour myself a libation
It is a rich country and I am in it. Every rat
Peeps from his cellar, every cat extends
His flattened body under the hoisted fur.
Leave me alone in this street. The houses topple
It broke through. It was not death that I came to.
Death is the surrounding country. In this city
Other manners prevail.
Who are they, my comrades?
Alive or dead, whatever I am myself.
This city I revisited in a day
The ghosts were paler, I had seen them all before
But less perfect, their eyes less direct. It was evening
Before, with the dusk hiding them, now it was morning.
Each face shone in its light, waxy, corrected,
Hair parted more than normally straight.
What eyes were those? The eyes of the dead or the living?
Did they see? If so, was it me they saw?
Why look past me as if I were not there?
Were they looking at anything? Could they see one another?
It is a strange city which has no citizens
And yet it seemed that these did not belong
I saw no couple clutching, heard no timbre
Of affection in any voice. There were no words,
At least they had not the intonation of language.
There are three numbers which, if I can remember
Seemed significant. There was a prize Almighty
Sitting at the end of the street like a statue of Baal,
Hooting through the wind-pipes. Perhaps this was the one
Behind whom struggle the still sensible dead
Like a basket of serpents. Down the street came marching
Four-square, evocative, echoing, like armed soldiers
The damned dreamers exercised without sexes.
Huzzas from the windows, but the spectators listless.
I stopped by the bridge and watched the procession pass
They walked into the air or out of the gate:
I was for a darker dream. Under the river
Into which he fell, through the surface, black sinews
Closing over his head.
Nothing but darkness, the hell
Of a lack of expectancy, the river
Itself gone, not even an underground flow,
Nothing from a to b, no a orb,
No confinement or even location.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The