Friday, 27 April 2007
Poems by James Brookes
A Vision of Sussex as Heligoland
Heligoland is shrinking. Perhaps it was wise
that Britain tried to blow up the entirety
of the German island in 1946
(they had traded it to them for Zanzibar
back in 1909). Now it’s a tax-haven.
Past sundown you had us worried, the long hours
of the sky gathering its spilt watery yoke
through fingers of cloud as we waited for word
timidly, as the odds and the shadows lengthened.
Sheep chorused their disapproval of the flashlights.
And of course, dangling from the barn’s new low-beamed roof,
your twin brother caught you, his own greyed reflection
that would turn at the switch to a damp straw yellow
then later, beneath steady white light, would clear
and be colourless. Your grandfather buried you.
Sussex, it seems, is shrinking. Your farm is a place
where snow is as temperate and reasonable
as changes of seasons expected. Forever
is merely a dimension of its remoteness,
like hypotenuse. Our bureaucrat language saves
embarrassment to the extent that we know thaw
when we see it, as fairly distinct from our tears.
Sussex, our Heligoland, snow-like, delicate
meadow-space, or whatever - at least for a while -
closes, thumbprint to filtrum; the pressure of dust.
Gave mere graft, myrrh,
more roads, grist and rage.
Grey moats the sky, greets
migrants. Mist goads
glared mirth. Myths and graves.
Moors; the sleet mints groats.
God grant us meet minds,
manner grief. Give. Save.
Demolish the feigned; it becomes believable.
Some call to say England, refined by the landscape
artistry of a Junkers JU 88;
the concreting of a trademark dissolution.
The roof-beams fall together to brace each other.
Faith re-knitting in the smoke-gauze above St Paul’s
to dissipate through a montage of coloured glass —
here is the shrapnelled love in the living flesh,
the iridescent tracer of communion.
Why else fast-forwards this pillar, this fallback point?
As witnesses, as voyeurs, as peopled ruins.
Compatible places for such covenants where
redeemable, human, souls might sit down to feast;
light becoming intimate with the horizon.
The First Cuckold
Who does practical things,
like making the buckles for Hermes’ sandals.
Who in the leisure of his talent
pokes about in the cinders
to kill time. Who frets,
who works by job-lot, who clock-
watches ‘til going-home time to
her tears and remonstrance, her soft
vulvic eyelids. Their moistness.
Who mopes; who sullenly forgives.
Who knows, probably, her night
breathing in his ear’s blast furnace
is coked with the salts of other men’s
palates. Who lives for this.