Childhood Trauma

By | 1 December 2011

After John Tranter

They burn the radio, they listen to the blue.
The okapi farmers whisper
at their meetings, and skirt the gardens.
Their articles revel in a cultural effect.
A multiple connection is enough,

I suppose; it’s a way to influence cool.
They want ordination in that religion
practiced by Bolivians. If they
retreat too soon from danger, they’ll be
unable to explain magic. And any

attraction is important: it’s a kind of high.
Smooth groups of comrades criticise
their elders’ speech, so full of faux pas –
superiority provokes confidence.


The automobile industry makes sense
when you’re smoking joints in the dunes.
Your decision to get breakfast at the café
overlooking the beach was a good one.

We’re flanked by metallic heat and sound –
don’t push it. You set yourself against
your family, it leaves you feeling light,
and elusive as fish. I’m against it,

but supportive. Cloud ships over, and then
rain stains the wall of the rock that we
descend into the lagoon-side quarry.

I meant to say what you needed to hear.
Everything usually goes unsaid.
I needed a family, but found none.


The drunk swindler falls from the bus,
a happy impact. His briefcase of ethics
readings was featured in the newspaper –
his GP and lawyers weren’t happy.

But isn’t the conscious desire to change stupid?
Assuming everything has purpose, as if
expecting a film to improve with viewing?
How soon the city turns into a national economy.

That’s how it worked in the book, with its
estimations that flit from topic to topic, isn’t it?
Or is it still stupid, though you love its capacity

for morality, while that pissant turd, affecting
honour, looking down your top as the bus
pulls up, becomes painfully enamored of you?


We laugh at ourselves with some difficulty,
but it’s not impossible to create a system
to analyse our later moods. The photograph
we stuck to the fridge was removed

by the visiting International Socialist.
Time’s incisions cut across your deepest thoughts,
and inevitably a complex answer builds up
from our conditioned methodology.

We hold and burn next year’s calendar,
the chemicals warp from the photos
and the lost dates appear again, valuable,

capacious. Love is nothing but today. This
pursuit of loss chews at my paragraphs.
Through the fast later years, we know we’ll know less.


The woman falls in love’s slow reduction.
Except for the window, all is movement
through winter’s fog. It grows dark,
so they donate a baptismal.

Compressed time is a sad mother
who calls in at your mental home.
Mate, these women just pounded around
the power station in the downwards dark;

and have you seen the girls who preen themselves
nervously in the heat? We’ll have ‘em squealing.
The bandits fall in with fanatics, but they

want only to pet the animals suffering
in the Caribbean dirt. Rain is soft,
it inclines tenderly – your harem of weather stops.


Does being the subject
of innumerable paintings
mean the child is weighted
down by arts administrators?

You need to make a call.
The train moves the boy
shifting his entire sky,
which is only history.

A soldier intones the wind
as he takes another train
to deplorable borders,
to reveal what it is to punish –

the lesion revives, and the boy hides
in the completed painting of the sky.


The edge of the afternoon returns
to itself. Winter disfigures the ground
with its fallen matter, the strange
tired flippancy of corruption.

It is worn-out before it started,
but presses further, an introspective child.
The radio blurts vague, waffled policy,
reserved for people satisfied

in the sick and blackened cities,
as, at last, they turn over the rocks
beached along the shore. There’s.
a feeling of increase in the stations,

ascending then gone. He thinks:
when he swims, he’s really there.


They are courageous, even if it is induced.
Your fellow passengers climb down
the scales of water as you work through
from childhood to deviation.

That old requirement goes too far.
If you deploy the whole of memory,
you might sleep, though it’s the source of un-
restricted pain. However you press on,

death’s inside that promise, too: the gauge
is overheated, we’re too detached,
everything is a bad film where we worry

away our wealth on simplicity, where the light
gets stranger, somebody writes, lights up,
and our time with the bottle turns so wrong.

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