Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Robert Sheppard: For Lee Harwood Burnt Journal 1939 (from Berlin Bursts)

Burnt Journal 1939 

for Lee Harwood at 70

The sergeant under the umbrella splashes Bovril
as he carries a cup to the private on duty.
It’s all part of the service of the services,
it seems, in this dream that you’re marched into.
The Cenotaph crouches under billowing silks
as a new red bus putters up Whitehall.
The colony of Belisha beacons flashes in harmony
lukewarm but welcome like a pie.

Everybody’s aunt assembles by the ambulances,
masks tested for when the city turns to mustard.
Their perforated snouts chorus submarine melodies,
rubbery inhalant hallelujahs! The last pleasure

boat is moored, the boathouse padlocked. Time
is serving time, commandeered for the duration.

26th February 2009

This poem was written (well in advance, it can be seen) for Lee's 70th birthday, and was included in my book Berlin Bursts. In Memoriam here.