Friday, 12 October 2007

Some More Poems by James Brookes

after Catullus 5

Let's live and love,
and not have a penny's worth
of dreary old men's gossip.
Suns withdraw and recoup;
when our day's trade runs out,
we must sleep on
through one limitless recession.

Kiss me, a thousand kisses, a hundred kisses,
a thousand more, a hundred more, until
in hundreds and in thousands we lose count.
In love's ledger of so many alleged kisses

not even the audit of an evil eye
could put a price on such a quantity.

In Clitheroe Keep (I)

The point was still to hold the pass, control
the pack-horses' route over the Pennines
- thus, Clitheroe. Up on its hill-spur. Small
infringement, herald of a bad time
like the taxman's strongbox on arrival.
Households squabble, huddle into being
below. A hill-fort's Norman reversal.
Clitheroe as was, where no-one was building
Clitheroe. A rest-home, heroes in choky,
imprisoned beings et al, though never likely
owt to kindle hope, like flame from clinker
but what surmounts the walls, outstays the captive -

A bright wind-marching, east for Pendle hill;
a sinew beneath its heather-coat of mail.

The Ship of Fools in Flames

Bound as they are in oil
the damned
do not fear drowining.

And the jokes are easy and clever
and we're buoyed by mirth
and it's no trick
to draw wine from the river.

We're going somewhere,
it's out of our hands. . .

Only something like a memory
or a pen and ink sketch of this day
without distracting colour,
tinder-keeled and thin as touch-paper,

is phosphorous in water,
is caesium
under oil, is naphtha

or those souls like flames
testing their entropy against the waves.

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