Today is the launch day of New Poetries 7, the occasional Carcanet anthology of new and not-established poets. I am very happy to be one of them.
Most of the poems by me included in the anthology are lyrical. But the opening few are from a sequence I wrote the day Donald Trump won the US Presidential Election. These are from the afternoon of that day. I wrote a lot. They are angry.
Politics/ 9.11.16 pm
When you cross a bridge over a river
you can be definite about something –
but the insides, altered, leave an after-
shock of what, and what the fuck is happening.
It would be neat if one were like the other,
and the flow and bowels met in meaning
so that out of it come mother, father,
family, house, all subordinated into song.
Instead, I am borrowing several futures
to explain yesterday’s present moment
that now is cancelled, and fairly brutal
was its ending – instead, I have my fears
gradated between drowned calm, burnt torment
and the headlong lull of going foetal.
I foresee a life’s work in this placement,
cadence that will fall unflatteringly
upon the judged, the camped jury, the wanted
and police force. Not harsh enough, they
are revealed to be; not sufficiently compliant
with pain-giving eloquence. We told a lie,
to no-one but ourselves, and now we can’t
backspace its bold typography.
Clanging down from less than heavens
there are some awoken ones, burial-mates,
drowners, who matter because of weakness
and sense-memory. Crows, crows and ravens,
the trees they engrave. Kestrels, kites,
their prey. And cuckoos, cuckoos, cuckoos.
Against futility, and the clasped hands
of century-separated cognoscenti –
because on dapple-pattern we all can agree,
and Beauty makes eternal amends.
The whole scaffold is entirely purposeful,
and blood-soaked, as a legitimate viewpoint.
There is an act that forces whatever it will
and cannot be don’t, you won’t, you can’t.
Ease yourself into the cell, liberal,
you have prepared your own welcome
and furnished with defeats a red chamber.
This zone will always be comfortable,
and you know it to be somebody’s home.
The dead are never without number.
When even a piss against a tree has
greater significance than a new move
in a familiar opening in chess –
we come to a point, sadly, where we have
to admit to ourselves that what we meant
when we insisted upon the validity
of clear and beautiful restatement
was, in fact, a truth founded on a lie.
How argument was actually quadrille,
and laws were signed on Beatrice’s heart,
and even handshakes were made out of wood.
There are men who kill the men who kill
the men who kill,
there is a death behind the death of art,
and there is bad is caused by good.
Exhaustion was the first fault, loosed
by lovers of style, the demographic
that demanded to choose where it placed
not only itself but every heretic
that had ever failed to see the funny side;
and in magazines spread self-belief
as a gospel that could be flash-fried
and served with carpaccio of beef.
Meat was a fact, this could be granted,
but butchers were not invited in, and so
butchers bowing their heads went to the lake
of all the blood they ever spilled, and counted
waves as they came in, then turned to go,
or rather turned to come back.
Self-accusation will become the mode
adopted by the mortgage-paid, the hobby-
rich, the baked old, when the mistake they made
begins to organize, demand, lobby.
Fine graduations of guilt, like Cuban cigars,
snipped perfectly with steel after decades storage
in custom-made mahogany humidors,
will send up smoke, like carving, like plumage.
There will be an aesthetique du mal
resurgent in the shires, years afterwards,
and I may be long ago cremated
but there is nothing I can do but feel,
no purpose beyond ordering these words
to say: Apologists are ever hated.