let the damned ride their earwigs to hell.

Pavel Simon

Pavel Simon, Title n/a.

Peter Redgrove, Corposant.

A ghost of a mouldy larder is one thing: whiskery bread,

Green threads, jet dots,

Milk scabbed, the bottles choked with wool,

Shrouded cheese, ebony eggs, soft tomatoes

Cascading through their splits,

Whitewashed all around, a chalky smell,

And these parts steam their breath. The other thing

Is that to it comes the woman walking backwards

With her empty lamp playing through the empty house,

Her light sliding through her steaming breath in prayer.

Why exoricse the harmless mouldy ghost

With embodied clergymen and scalding texts?

Because she rises shrieking from the bone-dry bath

With bubbling wrists, a lamp and steaming breath,

Stretching shadows in her rooms till daybreak

The rancid larder glimmering from her corpse

Tall and wreathed like moulds or mists,

Spoiling the market value of the house.

 

Herbert Palmer, Rock Pilgrim.

 

Let the damned ride their earwigs to Hell, but let me not join them.

For why I should covet the tide, or in meanness purloin them?

They are sick, they have chosen the path of their apple-green folly,

I will turn to my mountains of light and my mauve melancholy.

 

Let their hands get the primrose — God wreathe me! — of lowland and lagland;

For me the small yellow tormentil of heath-hill and cragland.

Man’s days are as grass, his thought but as thistle-seed wind-sown;

I will plod up the pass, and nourish the turf with my shinbone.

 

I should stay for a day, I should seek in high faith to reclaim them?

But the threadbare beat straw, and the hole in my shirt will inflame them.

They are blinder than moles, for they see but the flies in God’s honey;

And they eat off their soles; and they kneel to the Moloch of money.

 

They have squeezed my mouth dumb; their clutch for a year yet may rankle.

I will tie Robin Death to my side, with his claw on my ankle.

Let them come, stick and drum, and assail me across the grey boulders;

I will flutter my toes, and rattle the screes on their shoulders.

 

Let the damned get to Hell and be quick, while decision is early.

I will tie a red rose to my stick, and plant my feet squarely.

My back shall be blind on their spite, and my rump on their folly;

I will plod up the ridge to the right, past the crimson green holly.

 

Ithell Colquhoun, Gorgon. 1946.

Ithell Colquhoun, The Gorgon. 1946.

Paul Celan, Psalm.

(Translated by Michael Hamburger.)

 

Praised be your name, No one.

For your sake

we shall flower.

Towards you.

 

A nothing

we were, are, shall

remain, flowering:

the nothing -, the

No one’s rose.

 

With

our pistil soul-bright,

with our stamen heaven-ravaged,

our corolla red

with the crimson word which we sang

over, O over

the thorn.

 

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the place where dead leaves go…

Jindrich Pilecek, Title n.a.

Jindrich Pilecek, Title n.a.

Like a lot of those who write fiction, I am horrible at poetry. I enjoy it sometimes, though I have no patience for deciphering or working in formal verse. What use I find in writing poetry is mainly from forcing oneself to generate imagery and stitch together phrases, some of which could be useful later in the making of a story. What follows is the work of those who are good at poetry, and one of those exercises. The spacing on the last is somewhat off, as WordPress’ spacing decisions confound me, but as it’s essentially mulch anyway, it’s not terribly important. 

All month I heard the owls

pushing their heavy lumber

through the dark.

They are building

another room

on the night. – Thomas McGrath, “Poem.”

 

In our hands we hold the shadow of our hands.

The night is kind – the others do not see us holding our shadow.

We reinforce the night. We watch ourselves.

So we think better of others.

The sea still seeks our eyes and we are not there.

A young girl buttons up her love in her breast

and we look away smiling at the great distance.

Perhaps high up, in the starlight, a skylight opens up

that looks out on the sea, the olive trees and the burnt houses –

We listen to the butterfly gyrating in the glass of All Soul’s Day,

and the fishermen’s daughter grinding serenity in her coffee

grinder. – Yannis Ritsos, “Absence.”

Samuel Bak, Eternal Return.

Samuel Bak, Eternal Return.

Even the Syro-Chaldean bishopric I offered
on the strength of Hadrian VII
did not tempt Corvo. As mere Provost
to the Lieutenant of Grandmagistracy
of Sanctissima Sophia he fled
to Venice, convinced the Rhodes Trustees
were plotting his assassination.
Where else should provide a home
to the inventor of submarine photography?
I missed his inch-thick cigarettes,
gigantic Waterman fountain pens
and Graecocorvine vocabulary.
We played duets but kissed only once.
At last he denounced me as a fraud
and schismatic. I said he played the spinet
like a lobster trying to escape its pot –
after that, my overtures were useless.
For all his violence and absurdity
I warm to think of him now,
his cropped grey hair dyed with henna,
his white hand, wearing the spur-rowel ring
I gave him as defence against Jesuits,
closed round the oar of his panther-skinned gondola
diapered with crabs and ravens and flying
St George and the red-and-gold Vesilla
of the Bucintoro Rowing Club.
I think less of the lagoon-eyed fauns
he photographs and masturbates.
Does he think of me in Godless Middlesex,
where it either rains or they’re playing cricket?
The Syro-Chaldean Church is not doing well
despite my sigils, blazons, banners
and the undeniable splendour of our ritual.
The landlord’s wife is singing Auld Lang Syne.
This is going to be a Godless century. – Ian Duhig, “Archbishop Mar Jacobus Remembers the Baron.”

Dripping with sleep I went to write a poem
And the waters of the world took me for their own. – Charles Henri Ford, from “Epigrams.”

Gennady Spirin, Minstrel Gazing up at the Moon.

Gennady Spirin, Minstrel Gazing up at the Moon.

You were youthful and callow, ripe with greed.

You were a ghost catching pluck birds in the air.

Catching saint’s heads in jars, setting free

the meadows caught in camera’s nets.

Youthful and callow slender frame in corners,

thin as mountain air and fat as honey,

your slingshot of song

burst every ear drum in the valley,

pried open the dry rot in homes like ribs.

You collected an encyclopedia of eyes,

a rolodex of lips,

and a paucity of self awareness.

Callow and youthful, slingshot of dares,

Your nubile erection

Proudly displayed, among other wares.

You carried a bucket,

filled with the limp body of a muck owl,

all the way up the hill.

You uncracked its wings,

unpacked the feathers,

and set it out, cooling,

on the sill.

When the dark came, and dragging

the moon with it behind,

the night god took the muck owl

and left nothing but a rind.

Your laugh was wide and grasping,

and we set it out to catch the rain.  – Baron Earwig, “Doggerel for Callow Youth.”