Sunday 27 April 2008

Five Poems by Catherine Hales

on balance

a certain seepage will always occur
from meaning the best metaphors not
always the best insurance secure
all you want behind plate glass
with infrared sensors et cetera worth
a bomb a mask (example) making
death eternal you know the thing you
fine dust of test for fingerprints
then set up road blocks it's when
you part your lips that the problems begin


there’s no way round this       as the moment
splits from meaning the way the first snow
melts from my hair when I enter the house how
much longer will we be able to do this sit
in what’s left of the warmth of these october afternoons
drinking milchkaffee the play’s the thing on the canal
birches & willows angling in air as they have to above
ruffled water while swans arch in for the pickings
& the sparrows go for crumbs on the tables as though we weren’t
here at all
watching the light strike & burnish the late leaves I know it’s
not over yet

across the

singularities out there sucking light       so many
laid the foundation for a face-to-face

grinding millet lighting fires the tip of the mountain
outrageous to award a free kick for where did I hear

a shopping mall is now a lifestyle center
the woman walked out into the water weighted

from the window we could see rising from a bed of cloud
its beam marking the sands if we set out now

waves increasing frequency he went supernova
deep into the present mint crushed cumin

than venice
by the waters of       sofas empty bottles plastic bags full of
with a skinful of myself I just like to walk on my own if that's

the shriek of swifts dropping through air &
the photographer starts by painting the model's body

the archaeological record's real all our mythology's
ariel awol & caliban in his soul stale bread &

small pools caught in fists of petals disposal
fronts propelled by trenches of pressure accumulating

until she's invisible against the brickwork all this at my
take another look at yes & some of it lands in the

Seeing it through

A quiet astringent compromise of sorts –
It's surely the meek who suffer, several see
The dovetailing of memory into the brickwork, while
New debts are expunged by the needy
Mellifluous panic of a dawn chorus in the distance
Ascending from bare ruin'd notions of the
Bone, the idle and the clinamen. And finding this
In the sort of seedy restaurant that serves
Unwholesome pastimes on the internet, no doubt
There'll be consequences, and nothing would surprise
In a time of manifestos and mellow fruitfulness.
Bringing forward the attenuated circumstance
Of unrequited séances, the overall effect
May bewilder the uncertain, the queasy,
The flavour of the season. And various
Of their majesties may even attend the play
In soporific wonder though the span be meagre.

How, then, best to serve the appetite? A pre-dawn
Vertical insertion event with incontinent
Ordnance? That would do the trick to swell
A scene or two and send the orderlies running
For the wings. But is it to be trusted, things
Being not quite as they seem? A new
Menu item with an icon on the screen
Horrifies with auguries of germ warfare
If not nipped in the code and sharpish – o brave
New world that has such weasels in it. And where
Are the artefacts likely to be seen? A drifting cloud
Is just a drifting cloud; either situation
Is ugly, but one of them will be necessary –
The governance of profiteroles depends on it;
Until in the presence of the ineffable they squander
What resistance they've afforded to the wild,
Sarcastic narks surrounding the citadel. Wholly
To blame, and trusting to the power of integers,
The creatures crawl into their caverns and expire.


Catherine Hales lives in Berlin and works as a freelance translator. She co-edits 'Bordercrossing Berlin' magazine and co-organises the Berlin 'Poetry Hearings' festival. Her pamphlet out of mind appeared in 2006. Her poetry can be read online at Stride [here and here], Shadowtrain, Litter, Shearsman and Fire [here and here]. Her translations can be found at Litter and No Man's Land magazines, and her review of Sarah Rigg's Waterwork can be read here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Contemplative, suggestive poems, gently transporting a refractive consciousness 'deep into the present'. I especially enjoyed the fragmentary syntax, with its echoes of the unstated and unfinished.