Time for a little verse, I think. This is the first part of a group of poems inspired specifically by the myth of the golden fleece and, obliquely, by Pasolini's Medea (or maybe that should be the other way round). The group - complicatedly - forms the second half of the collection entitled VALUE, sections of which have appeared below (click on poem, or value, to find them). The Golden Fleece has two rather lovely epigraphs:
In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend. The Communist Manifesto
Of course the stars were nearer before we could fly - why else should the universe expand? Tom Raworth
I seem impervious to pain.
Spectators applaud, I continue
to cross the archipelago, the tiny birds
collapsing like Asian kites
and the lights must be laid
on as the decoration of a blade’s
journey toward the clarity it
cannot stand. All of the stations are static.
Videos in the cancer ward in a ‘far off’
place, where he lovingly reinstates
the small neglected things,
gilds them with leaf of his heart.
Impassive housewives break wind
among shelves in a market under the buzzing
rails. They’re struggling as always,
they’re talking about the waves
of detached and sacred soap.
A bareback rider composed of
winking bulbs, stationary and
electric and blue as
benign flesh. Only the instruments escape
the taint of drunkenness in the maker.
Light moves across daring scalpels
in the surgeon’s hands, kindly
displayed to the objects, the gaudy
entrance of daylight into the
National Grid. His escape
is so often imitated it becomes
inimitable and novel
to walk back into the bar’s
description of itself, its
from wall to wall.
The cables are dangling from the roof.
The roof is a temporary structure.
Under the structure is a space, enclosed.
The space is organised.
O twinkling stars.
If only to cover the event
all objects that reflect the light
shall assemble here.
Demand that cannot frame
its words, a cloud
that enters the room
to fill it.
I think I was waiting for that light
to coax me in, to inherit the burden
of the torch-bearer, blinded
by so much improbable splendour.
I am walking a little apart from that.
I am leaning into the lit
mirror of a well. What’s opportune
throws smoking scarves round the sun.
It is always too late to get up
and even for the tulip
dawn remains simply decorative.
The mountains leave
the household, the household is anxious
to be left to its own devices
as it works its way into the heart.
I am staring down on the lit
riot of cells and the city is casting
about my hands a frayed ring
from a wistful and delicately drawn
exchange. The generator down
the line and a sudden
infusion of neon
attack my boxed ears.
I am walking toward the source
of the attack which becomes a bulb which
becomes a button which becomes a
bear which becomes a back
which becomes a rider
what you said I was all the time.
This too shall be taken apart
or be extended, infinitely,
through the city and all that we know
of the city’s madness shall be written
on the palm of one hand
that cannot even touch another
without leaving filth.
As I hold up chaos to the glass
I see my own hands hold it there,
a cowering frame that wards off
knowledge of itself. A bareness
an arm into fire and feeling
nothing, neither pain nor heat, only
the chain of the body’s affections,
appalling glimpses, barely
enough to see daylight by.