‘Somewhere the mimetic is having more fun than I am’
Somewhere the mimetic is having more fun than I am
Doing what is done when description windowdresses
The world in frontage, clear as snowdrops in a cup.
The work of enjoyment is outnumbered by confusion,
Or only the flagrant frost of cans & trousers, poles
For fishing, & other displayed tackle. Brought down,
The claim to see & say; this whirlpool is no hypnotist’s plot.
The vision on offer today is grim: brooding germs spoil
In July, but ladder in August to overbreed the solar lung;
Disease binds deep into our wind, cannot be expunged.
Few will survive this transit, so flares beckon the ailing
To camps where sleeves are rolled up, injections slipped.
Now a medical universe is sharp as new-dabbed barns,
Clean as Christmas in white slapdashery. Hung up
By gloomy rafters an unworkable Farmer Brown fishes
For breath, unhooked becomes a clam. No speech acts
As well as a loop for a throat. Tie one on & plunge.
Taking this as morbid helps, as daily assists, as done.
Crisp despair & stylised anxiety won’t quite quip a virus
Off the surface. A cut describes its own revulsion in red
Ink, or is a body celebrating when it grins out, festooned?
Race to the poles, where answers are stacked in Quonsets,
Then radar back info-rubber to the chaps at HQ on wires.
Death was harpooned, refuses to blubber further. Sung
Like that, these undefeated lyrics express strange happiness.
I think Of Delmore Schwartz, Beside My Sleeping Love
Romantic, an American lyric
Pitched to Plato, past to a sleeping blonde
By my side (Frisch’s Stiller slipped
From her hand like a hypodermic) –
As birdsong types out a serious letter
Calling out for madness and History
To meet underground, spring’s
Union in the grave, that breaks
When love’s excess proves rhetoric
Can be poetry before it persuades.
Beauty read Freud and smoked cigarettes,
Was smart, milk came in bottles, those vessels
Rattled, and genocide was still
Locked in the razor of one ill heart.
The complex mode puts leaves on trees
And summer is a good idea of the mind
Long before ever it was experience –
For we imagine knowledge to be good
And sure, even though, as Eden’s children
Mostly what we knew was unconfined –
Our syntax slipped away from land
Our rocking beds sailed on moonlight
The frost of sky our beaconing horizon.
Awake ghost voyager now, who sank
In the unmoored mind’s Mariano,
Unrafted, swollen with brain-rot,
Wracks of passion – unable to know friend
Or pirate in the shadow of shadow.
The sublime may call for clarity
But is often served by vague men who doom
Their jutting prows to strike odd reefs,
Unroofed by calm lingo and straighter goals.
Only in subtle bays or surface shoals
Do tides or pools destroy; not in desert rooms;
The gloom is the sea spray breaking in.
So were your self-made cuts to brow
Of mad projections (of madder maps) both slight
Surface and submarine profound too – sufficient
To render sinking thoughts and feelings
Mirroring out emotion, casting a beam to blind –
Blindness not bestowing wisdom but poison
To fog the clown, whose mask of white pain
Conveys words for pain as well; mascara on skin
That goes to the roots subcutaneous and beyond.
To die alone is to contain a sorrow blossoming
Before sane spring arrives, to know disorder
Thriving like a bulb bled in shaken ground,
Still the ground the only self that one can own,
So one’s garden is infested with an early frost even
In the middle of a bright seeming normal sun.
A renaissance as rain bows down the cherry tree,
As men cough in thin hallways before they frown
To click at keys that lead them on through frail doors
To places of walls, pale carpets and burns on floors
That speak of beige traffic, and fisticuffs in closets.
To fail is obscure – it means one first could win,
Be laurelled, in order to sink, like Satan; you did;
I see this unmastery fight itself off now in me.
Twilight like a courtier bows at the long glass pane;
The Queen of Night allows access to her pavilion.
O, high sensation and archaic claims of style!
The tree that latticed our bodies with light and shade
When we wake is not a metaphor or natural –
Spoken into greenery by this thrill of penmanship –
Spendthrift and untidy on a foolscap before sleep.
Your adoration has slackened on the bed
And yet by force of habit are we both readHammersmith, May 2009
On one page forever unioned by a line’s crown.
Such a coronation of an abstract love is
Grandiose perfection of the written ring.
[Todd Swift was born in Montreal in 1966 and has lived in Europe since 1998. He is a graduate of the UEA MA in Creative Writing. Since 2004 he has been Oxfam GB poet-in-residence. He is a tutor with the Poetry School and a university lecturer. His poems have appeared in New American Writing, Jacket and Poetry Review. He has published six collections of poetry, most recently, Mainstream Love Hotel, tall-lighthouse press, 2009. He is a poetry editor for Nthposition and blogs as Eyewear. ]
Copyright © 2010 by Todd Swift, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.