(Florence Walk, Bishops Stortford, August 4, 2014)
little noisy children here
hey stop that shouting!
you are all like bubbles
then I’ll be back
OK then too?
you’re a monkey too
a little one
here come more children
have a good day tomorrow
& say goodbye to Charlie
was that Paulina?
or maybe a Sarah
we used to know?
quick visit to the loo alright
needs noise now
I stress this
the little bag
the little shop
go the Jackson Square
are you alright?
the little boy’s phone
his brain rots
rustle! rustle! squelch!
under a cold
this is a start again
I must use
simple & sure
on noblest bards
I’d be happy
oh, tapirs then
bring me one
bring me lots
– they eat
all the kids’ phones
all at once
that’s what we use
doing the Florence Walk
only the world dreams
in unrented shops
an insipid ghost
let the tapirs rummage
no place else today
(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.
- 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
fucked up to enter3
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
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
Do you tell us things will all be upped?
in a dream, unhidden, I do, I shall
let fancies flourish across those pathways
all inconsistencies determined
The loveliness of Winter is never passing
whoever’s where can catch its value
in the dark wood brief dapples bloom
circumstances within the sublime
The girl & the girl are foxes, women too
young & unabased by seriousness
their power will survive whatever
ever-unpassing as perpetual birth
All genders and hags & gypsies
– out of the mouth of my mother, her jaws
it said, Sally, you shan’t disobey us
don’t ascend this white horse but
The tone is like wounds: I shan’t write
only poems and a song – those things are serious
severest, unmarred and are uncontainable
we ran to the ship and thank.
Like, just what is this, & who and where? Some blurry mess come out of the skies to titillate & mock us? Sarah, I can see you are laughing, free of who you are, but then you don’t turn up anyway – you just invite all your snarky little friends. Oh how cute – look, they’re playing cybermen & werewolves, surrealist japes & cheap rip-offs. I can see why you’re laughing; but how can you avoid chromosomal damage under this inhuman pressure? IDS, for gods’ sake! why? why?
And you, Paulina, you pointless bitch – rip out rather than rip off, some sophomore gesture towards materiality and ephemerality of the image, hunh? I don’t need to respond to a bit of torn paper, or a few smears of inky patterns handcrafted on Olde Photoshoppe. OK, so we’ve had a thing about heads, for a long long time, and putting them on cupcakes will make us happier I don’t think. I eat.
My money’s on the vagrants. They’ve moved down out of the pass. Speaking as one who knows, I’ve been there. It’s cold, beautiful, full of the way out, hunkering down besides this fire.
Starting with laughter
never any of our patterning.
neon and the delicious disordered:
David1 at dawn’d rebuild m.o.r.
aristocrats – alright, they seem barbecued now
a believable nothing: Sundays will
break the bones into constellations of summer:
Crash! Cross! Shine! Whatever
fucking entoptic now Sarah promises
poeticising her familiar. Need
or kaka; no comment
this pudding fragments
Suddenly smutty screaming – idealess
but alchemically Dynamic – OK like food
oh, or paper. A word. A world.
Disgust following – OK: the young
all starting off real but recursive
it’s a medium mess but fun, a bit
1 Houssart, so’s you know