Saturday, March 28, 2015

Robert Sheppard: Schrage Musik and The Lores Book 2 (Re: Selected Poems: History or Sleep)

Two long narrative texts telling fragmentary tales of the 1930s and 1940s have been reluctantly de-selected from History or Sleep, my 'Selected Poems'. The first was the long poem 'Schrage Musik', which deals with both the RAF and POW situations, as well as addressing the utopianism of the New Apocalypse poets (or that generation). Even as I'm typing, I'm thinking it should be there but it's too long and doesn't work in excerpt at all well. It is, in the words of a wartime song, 'All or Nothing at All'. It is already posted on Pages though without italics, where it appeared i.m. my father, whose experiences very generally influenced the text. So that's here.

The second text is one of the 'books' of The Lores. This I call my haiku novel and I am pleased that this 1930s history of a fictional Blackshirt can be intuited from the 12 word verses. Something about it didn't work between two impacted pacey anti-fascist 'books'. (The voice of apologetic, self-admiring ex-fascists is unpleasant here, too, because it doesn't operate through irony.) Of course, I might change my mind about using it. But here's that one. Read it verse by verse. Slowly.

Book 2: Bolt Holes


They are bleeding this

country, secret Whitechapel gutter

rites. Bolshevik bolt holes



Terrors traversed autumnal ethics.

Our fresh Lordship negated

introspection over sherry decanters



Bronchial children cough, three

to a bed; crystal

voices from its frame



Protocols kicked, shattered Yiddish

on jagged glass. Mongols.

Tomorrow, our promised land



Marching between tramlines, tight-

necked blackshirts claw the

air. Lightning bolt salutes



Solutions, hands raised, stopping

stones. Your face, a

jewel, crowd-fleshed; crowned



You kiss my scars,

our struggle. Emotion retreats.

Anarchs copulate with Queens



Bolshevik jazz, jungle nights

in Pimlico. Jerusalem in

England’s green and pleasant



Old Gang rich bitches

stoke the engine for

the Empire’s last Plantation



Her blackshirt bit of

rough, I serve. Dismissed,

savage dynamo, corporate individual



Wife hanged like a

ghetto Jew – obsessive simile

knots her suicide note:



‘Chasing skirt for the

Party ... Suffragettes licked your

stamps ... Man and master!’



Worthing) the stab of

the crowd one slice

of zeitgeist (broken windows



Uniform mind fills Olympia.

Regulated hearts, public health.

Public Order, embodied ideals



Venerable cigarette card image:

Mosley’s staff car; razored

Red along running boards



Saluting crowd, prickles on

a pelt, policies brushed

to the Centre, Leaderfear....



The limp swastika; Rundfunkhaus.

Schnapps and bitch sensuality:

Southern England in flames



The World-Soul clears

his throat; his plans.

The poetics of propaganda



Bent wire slipped back

into pocket: Jew bent,

bleeds over yellow Star



Brutish airman, parachute caught

in charred Berlin tree;

the people almost decide



Last drunken broadcast: ‘Final

phase of European history ....

What you must become



Shot her – and our

curled child. My manly

bullets, one fact unswallowed



The Bűro’s leather chair,

my dead microphones, lovers

wired in delirious parallel



How quickly the airship

slipped – band still playing –

firestorm roared through Ambrose



With horror I realise

these prison uniforms have

come from the camps



To speak; by way

of silence. Eloquent statuary.

Race suicide; condemned Men



Gives the fascist salute;

a blood-stain on

the cleared gymnasium’s floor



As Joyce drops, his

street-fighter’s scars burst;

clocks stop, valves plume



heart stops) The broken

promise to follow your

pregnant decoy (sentence begins:



I search my mask

for a face to

redeem me) Collective guilt



Passion and hatred flicked

your curls. Memory’s bones,

your scattered clothes; disposal



My slogans – for history

books and marble plinths?

Eyes tethered on stalks



Leaves drip, leave no

measure. Hermetic hut, camouflaged

with endless autumn leaves



Stench of burnt coil

from overheated wireless. Cell

fills with burning bodies



Posthistorical thunderclap, limp lightning.

Administration without Men, time

drifts, creaks. Self-shipwreck