Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Robert Sheppard: four poems for Patricia (from Warrant Error)

Warrant Error (still available here) doesn’t quite do what it says on the tin; it isn’t entirely my work about the war on terror. Of course you can cut the cloth to make that the focus, as I did here, when the US Senate Select Committee released its account of the 'War on Terror'. But as notions of human unfinish came to the fore, during its composition, as resistances to the absolutism of Neo-Con and terrorist alike, the need for positive human unfinished values grew. So here, to celebrate Patricia’s birthday are four poems for her (two of them dedicated to her, two of them not, but she's in there).

for Patricia

We slide the week ahead, pause it trembling
at a future instant, somewhere in extensive
time that underwrites each moment.
All our actions are staged on this surface

We’ll rest upon it during this event, as he
makes a world, augmenting his resentments.
The person who is absent will constitute his day,
a series of evasions to bind him to all he’ll miss.
Everything will curl around the nothing of it

It’s a new game, somehow like faulty traffic lights
guarding a hole in the road, blinking like an idiot.
But the sunflower now you place for me in sunlight

is staged on the other side of sense, making love
happen, firing me with its fiery compound eye


His breath takes her beauty away, deep
in his body where language measures the world

One breath it takes to be no longer winning a war.
They cup warm palms over each other’s cold knees.
Wind shoulders against the flanks of their house;
windows shiver.
They stand in front of it to stand for themselves

It chimes into rhythm that celebrates itself,
this looking at tomorrow, guiding the eye back
to the time of their looking, a swoon into cracks
between history and memory. She dressed in black

from frisking ponytail to stabbing boot toe. Out-
stretching her impossible heels, he buries himself,
moulding her sighs, in soft mammalian heat


The English sky wipes itself clean
And wind turbines thrash themselves
Like national champs in training

I put my arms around you and stop myself
Writing tales of backyard cargo cults
You nestle into the hollow of my dream
Which I want to write out but my eyes are full
Of rusty girders over soupy canals

You frown in your sleep that lulls the jargon
And crackle of newsprint with its fleet score
The trim roofs of shopping palaces steam
Over canopic jars full of carbonised laurel stalks

The painted masks bear no relation
Household gods composted with household goods


for Patricia

The young couples in the crushed Amsterdam bar
dance to Barry White in the old-fashioned way

Later, aloft on Belgian beer, I murmur that I
love you, but then slip away, like the dancers,
into the night, knocking over bicycles chained
to bollards, and singing; into my reverie so far
in which we sit again drinking under the wooden ape

Almost human it grins at us both with more teeth
than the accordion it fumbles. This is all times
becoming a new time which is a now time
becoming all, a swoon through cracks in the paving

where vanished children crouch over hidden play.
Next day, a narrow canal house lips at its reflection;
we stand in front of it to stand for ourselves

Visit the Patricia Farrell Celebrations Hub Post (with links to all the rest) here.