Not One More for the Road
No. Breasting the clouds the 747
dives like a dolphin and blacks out
the screen, the headphones fill
with a sweaty silence.
Which is funny because
my sinking fund won’t float
anymore. And who wears the noose
might not take the drop
but will still go down
for the third time.
Life still cobbles itself into shape
in the ether, sixty degrees below.
It’s one drink after another. We ease
the slipknot of sleep, dreaming
a slipstream of blood in the tail
of this jet. And I’m hooked for
re-fuelling, with vodka and ice.
And we finally land, in the rain,
where I walk clockwise
and sleep clockless, snagging
the phone wire around my
neck, but I hear the dial tone,
so I’m still in this world. Outside
water rises. I’ve brought no umbrella
and it’s the Atlantic, you know,
not a children’s book. I am
still in this world, aren’t I. (Aren’t I?)
Getting ahead of yourself by .25 of a second
lagging behind the self in the Polaroid
in a haze of identity, skipping a beat
but dragging my feet in the light
and dark that the shutter blends
in a grey synchrony.
No matter whether I lose or find myself
No matter whether I sleep or slump before the TV
in showers of mud and water and cascades of leaves
it’s hell either way.
Autumn is out to captivate
and you try to redeem the captive hand
that was lost to the land of the living.
But there’s no rhyming between two worlds.
Two flames converge on one cigarette
but the hand with the match is unmatched,
it lights, and having lit, moves on;
even in grey autumnal dawns
when we vanish in over-exposure.
Pomona and Vertumnus
Seductive frescoes and coquettish stained glass
with the iron foliage of grated windows
this isn’t a make-believe world, Pomona
these aren’t the vaults of your dreams, Vertumnus.
With the iron foliage of grated windows
they speak of a town monopolized by children
these aren’t the vaults of your dreams, Vertumnus
but a smile and wave at the town’s last exit.
They speak of a town monopolized by children
the histories of children have nothing in them
but a smile and wave at the town’s last exit
in a moment eclipsed by the colossal sun.
The histories of children have nothing in them
the children of those children won’t know they’re born
in a moment eclipsed by the colossal sun
when time does a backflip and lands in the dark.
The children of those children won’t know they’re born
it’s the far end of history on our livid planet
when times does a backflip and lands in the dark
and the games of children stand out in night-vision.
It’s the far end of history on our livid planet
etching the outline of cathedral spire
and the games of children stand out in night-vision
in the shadows of needles on the underpass wall.
Etching the outline of cathedral spire
seductive frescoes and coquettish stained glass
in the shadows of needles on the underpass wall
this isn’t a make believe world, Pomona.
nothing is out of this world
or beyond the pale since Zeus
found night in the blue of days
left the sun at a nonplus
made men forever twitchy
now anything and everything
springs from the box
so what if the beasts of the field
leap in the sea like dolphins
the spouting waves are a charm to the ears
but not where the dolphins are
at rest in their mountain hideaway
[ Rod Mengham is author of books on Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy and Henry Green, as well as of The Descent of Language (1993). He has edited collections of essays on contemporary fiction, violence and avant-garde art, and the fiction of the 1940s. He is also the editor of the Equipage series of poetry pamphlets and co-editor and co-translator of Altered State: the New Polish Poetry (Arc Publications, 2003) and co-editor of Vanishing Points: New Modernist Poems (Salt, 2005). His own poems have been published under the titles Unsung: New and Selected Poems (Folio/Salt, 1996; 2nd edition, 2001) and Parleys and Skirmishes[poems] with photographs by Marc Atkins (Ars Cameralis, 2007).]
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