William Blake at the Cardomah Café
‘a blue sky spread over with wings and a wild moon’
Raise your cups, gentlemen, raise them
over the boiled eggs and eggy soldiers;
keep the story at bay, your connections
minimal. Think of the hands as a platform,
the branching of thumb and palm,
the body, its muscular repose, ‘the corn
is turned to thistle and the apples to poison...’
A fine water colour with lilac stuff
upon a female form and a fine mirror
held by a strong fist, and the mouth
& eyes, ‘O, O, O!’ One eye sleeping,
the other eye piercing & manufacturing.
‘In the midst of this, twenty eight cities
each with his bow breathing’.
The scales of the coiling dragon,
the man beneath the dragon, howling ‘O!’
next to his skeleton, beside his chains,
crouching there beside the sea, where
the sun shines and gulls fall, buckled
above the water; waves rising caught
in their own viscosity, viscous sun
split in clouds where Captain Dog,
& his snakes fly high above and kiss
in a bundle, and you kneel at the edge
of the circle, spread your hands as the steps
rise up behind the tree and the sheep
flow in, flow in to graze where blocks
of stone are poised as in any other wall.
The baby on your knee, you
with your bulbous face, helping
your child with its first steps, bent,
resting your fingers on the top of its head.
making an exhibition of yourself;
a study for a woman ironing;
the blank cut rectangle with hand drawn
doves in perspective that people sit
on or stand beside, and such spaces
between the entries that there could be
no confusion for ‘a line supports
an unbroken thought, a sentence
said in breath’. Walter Sickert 1912.
The folds run down a wall.
And lives grow old there in that
great cleft in the earth between
the falling walls of road, under
blue captured sky, over still water;
lives rising each Spring with Persephone
to Demeter, with poppies like
cowled women, trees bent in death.
Or a straight man made of tessellations;
the face, the chin resting on the sound box,
lips on the strings, so the hands might
swing in the breeze, the light imposing
in cathedral dark, and towards the edge
heavy shading, to convey the body
of the road, and what kind of the eye
that can be.
[Ian Pople's An Occasional Lean-to is published by Arc]
Copyright © 2010
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