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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