Poem – Ritual Roots (By David Russell)
Trains: Stringing, ringing, lifting,
Breathing meringues, with pores distended
at the termini
Contraction is needed for piercing of bars
And holing of tickets.
The breaking of one deadlock only
Institutes another, more firm,
In the hand and in the basket.
More futile by far than any old bird’s weak flight
Through a Church, a hall or waiting room –
The bird drags no shit-stream
Through that other door
That bird escaped the drag
Of fuel oil upon its wings,
Spared all cog-driven struldbruggery
While the train stops at the tiny halt
Neolith-daubed, unused pioneer-line
Goes over the moors,
Shoring up the gorse;
Flaunting the purity of their stalk-ends;
They never want for the yellow tops
That would have staunched life’s flow
To further a legend they did not desire.
So long before the human ‘birds’ eye view’
They had straight paths
But now small boys try to feel for those submerged paths
With toy gliders
Letting them off the tow-thread at the fifth parallel
The hinterland where they flew straight,
Or, rudders primed flew purely curved
Neither rising nor falling.
Unbalanced in themselves, they strained
To emulate old parallels, sailing in chalices,
Echoing the droppings
Of a sacreligious peace-pigeon
Echoes my their acolytes, making heavy their point
With twisted rubber motors
In terror of obstructive dog-kites, bare teeth
White – rootless – white
White as the stringy horse of Uffington
That abraded chalk protector
Upon the ribbed bosom–green around;
Cut chalk-string made a loop of security
Around the central stick
Of his magic, wishing eye.
All devotees of this monument
Made secret wishes
Gazing at that flat eye of blistered chalk
To be divulged to no-one
Directions are to be taken from hieroglyphs
On a brass shield of indeterminate date
Purified by a soiled cloth
Settling light is sucked down into it
Sight-flour yeast-breathed perception
Particles thickened to choke all comers
Aircraft designers must have been inspired
By the vision of their product as a minute speck
At maximum height,
Seen from ground level
The superjet designers had several thousand feet
Of altitude coiled up inside themselves;
They suffered abrasive cuts
So small, but with all the force
Of the pitiless desert
Just as a surgeon’s knife compresses the essence
Of some whole, tissue-flaking creature.
Time, tabulated on stelae, walls and pillars,
Onion-time in membrane squares,
Veils for some decent process,
Tantalising to every new year’s nakedness
Under and over veil-protector.
The makers of the stelae chipped in
To what they wanted,
Raw skins: it was good to melt them
When they could be packed so tightly.
When they are packed, let them be stacked
Rear end upwards
Only to be cornered as the approach
Their apexes, for the time being.
Time, being, ran to the sea-shore,
Fumbling for submarine coal-seams,
Sandwiched and juicy;
Lust-looking thing changing
From all other layers.
Layered ex-top, discolouring its crushers,
Cause for some old aggressor –
There: skin and dust for you;
Leave the skins flapping, and wash out
Your light blue –
You use paper for your skins,
Rolled-up, disposable versions
Of what the trees did so long ago,
Functioning for complete incisions,
At yet another remove from coal
Removed but akin.
Try a little synthesis; put the ocean
Where some solid things have been
Empty the superfluous coal into it
(Whilst sparing a pang of regret
For the jettisoning of so much utility)
Spread out your net like a membrane
Flapping, capping ooze-tincture and depth-go –
Coupled traffic-light bottom,
With an extra tinge of excluded blue;
The work of your contrived tide does not look like
Your calendar sheet, being discarded
At the end of every month.
The manufactured tide is humidity-graded, piled,
Distilled of its residue, skimmed, cream-capped
Reversed on its own rollers
To contradict and paralyse its direction.
Even the sand may look into you like water
If water is very far away
Though bigger eyes may paper it up again,
And make you love cardboard,
Love monopolized leaf covers yet more.
Many miles I walked along that shore,
Hoping that the outer edge of that black membrane
Would lunge back into my depths,
To the bottom of the cavernous pit
Leaving a consistent left-right, and go-colour
Right up to where a yellow zone started.
The calendar maker cannot siphon off grafted brain-jelly
Carvers of stelae only cut rims;
A neutral shape cloaks the interior quite adequately.
I am cut in two by my forward leaps,
Hounded by the hitch-hiker’s magnet
The hooked belly-pincer within me
Jaws, compasses, screws –
Stela-threads cut into me
To regulate my movements,
Saluting forlorn hopes.
My hand plumbs attempted suicide
My ruler makes a parallel attempt
To halt on touching the membrane
One desperate soul
Reached for a pneumatic drill,
Rutted his piece of road,
Sweated out water
While flattening his death-furrow.
So now that stretch of road is a dead entity,
A monument to wasted effort.
Here there is no gloss of top-use
Planners an navies are synthesized
The plumbing arrow hit its mark
Then spread out like a film
Coagulate was the mass beneath that film
Tacky was thought-fibre dualism.
Intervals of roads, water, glass and slots.
Hole of the prying hand – backwards
As the tar was glossed over
Jagged as an essential lump of gravel
A tip for the next administrative arrow.
David Russell was born in 1940. Resident in the UK. Writer of poetry, literary criticism, speculative fiction and romance. Main poetry collection Prickling Counterpoints (1998); poems published in online International Times. Main speculative works High Wired On (2002); Rock Bottom (2005). Translation of Spanish epic La Araucana, Amazon 2013. Romances: Self’s Blossom; Explorations; Further Explorations; Therapy Rapture; Darlene, An Ecstatic Rendezvous (all pub Extasy (Devine Destinies). Singer-songwriter/guitarist. Main CD albums Bacteria Shrapnel and Kaleidoscope Concentrate. Many tracks on You Tube.
This poem is part of the complete collection; Speculum: Collected Poetry and Prose, by David Russell.
View or Download the complete collection here in PDF format.
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