80. Some Questions About These Poems Answered1

(written June 6-9, outside Starbucks & in Sainsburys Café, Jackson Square Shopping Centre, Bishops Stortford)

  • And why shouldn’t it all be tender, as well as what it is? Isn’t it that flayedness to everything which makes us human – otherwise just a mass of instincts & drives, like insects or computers, or the sort of man totally locked within the armour & armature of his own masculinity, blundering ever onwards. That was the plan. This is its opposite.
  • No, of course we can’t say what we’re on, what we’re off. Do you really trust prepositions? Like, they are important – familiar Oppen quotes here – that’s why I use them, but they are so, well, emotional. An off day. Feeling offish. Turning on. All the positioning is internal – inside it/outside it, around it/about it, by it & to it – “get off!” “get on!”
  • And her – who does she think she is? Who does the language think she is? We’re in the shopping centre, the trolley-boy is wheeling his noisy train past, it’s sunny outside, there are dogs & babies & all the rest. Come on (or off) – you’ve been here lots of times, haven’t you? If you haven’t, dear reader, this poem may need additional footnotes to indicate how life is living itself at this point of writing. It’s not difficult. It’s just how it always is. What you actually do inhabit.
  • But we’re insistent – an act of memory concerning her. Within this poem there are many actors, & many may be female. Are they the same? Are they different, separate? Well, all names for a start. You ascribe the gender, I just give words. Each instance could be unique, or a fragment of some multiply diffracted higher reality. Oh fuck! That is out of our control – back in the hands of Offa (you remember? Bretwalda & King of Mercia, then stupid duck joke – kin to Anna, maybe, King of East Anglia & Lord of Essex. They did love those cross-gender names in Dark Age England. We should respect that and enjoy.
  • Rheged
           drops liquid
                 veiled
                            under Elmet
                            before it

    – not Hughes
      but Taliesin
          knowing & prophesying
          did
          actual things
          glamorous in the rainy air
                       the far South
                       may be Rochdale

  • Well, that is so definitely offish – really badly. These adverbs add voice – an unpleasant whine mostly. Occasionally balanced. So — what. We need a half question mark here – named the quesma. You picture it. Go on. Do so.
  • Sometimes, though, the semantics are plain & apparently monofunctional. Take the openplan bank. Modern, friendly, or, “friendly” – but in fact most of the people you encounter working in banks are really nice, so that’s not so much scare quotes as labelling automatic ideologically motivated abuse. Even an office layout can make you feel good. Environmental design works on us as powerfully as language, though with less self-consciousness.2 But the anxiety Dave reported as actual & unexpected – everyone fearful. Someone might come in, armed, & threaten, injure or kill. It could happen. Banks – yeah, yeah, yeah. We know. We do. But an ordinary waged person, dealing with customers at a desk? Do they deserve worse than you? Really?
  • real criminals then
                             – psychotic as hedgies
                               use & abuse
                               not a trade
                               a vocation

                               fucked up to enter3
                               OK but
                               taking your things
                               what you need
                               & have made
                                                   – by force
                                                     or by fraud

    how different then from rulers & other
                               high status elites
                               their hired thugs

                               actual criminals
                               against human law
                                             all of them

  • Yeah! Let this be a positive poem, twinkly as a tapir’s dainty little hooves, unpredictable, ridiculous & true as a performance by Holly Pester, noisy & bubbly as a toddler, unabashed by ideology, fashion & correctness, as friendly to bank workers as to poetic workers, even academic workers, happy to be here today answering your questions,4 & its own questions,5 all questions. Right – who’s next?

 

 

1 & even more raised, we are sure

 

 

2 It falls over if it tries this.

 

 

3 Isn’t that true of all vocations? Priest or poet – who is the more fucked up?

 

 

4 preferably by other questions

 

 

5 always w/ other questions

One thought on “80. Some Questions About These Poems Answered1

  1. Elmet, effectively centred around Leeds, was a similar British state. Ted Hughes’ Remains of Elmet (Faber & Faber, 1979) I found rather dire (though some nice photos). But Taliesin’s praise poems in honour of Gwallog (the last-but-one king) are magnificent. Taliesin and Neirin/Aneirin are of course the two earliest named British poets, composing in Yr Hen Ogledd, in the territory of the Gododdin (inhabiting the region South of the Firth of Forth, with Edinburgh a main centre).

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