Impact

1 August 2012

for Matthew Hall, after reading ‘High Pink on Chrome’ by J. H. Prynne

 
Light glancing off polished steel.
                        Steam, petrol, adrenaline in the air.
            Surfaces – skin, metal, language –

                                    all the muscle implied by them.
This wreckage of disciplines –
                        impossible to tell which vehicle

            is which, and if this is a problem
                                    of language or vision. The perspective
from within a dim, unplaced room.

                        The “accident” glimpsed through bent
            horizontal blinds – lines of poetry
                                    from 1975, still warm. Tucked into

deep folds of grammar – knives.
                        You could have but didn’t call
            the poet ‘seminal’, the word too much

                                    rooted in the historical, sexual to be
of more use than the impact itself.
                        Reading a photocopy, I’m jolted

            by the motion of the last train
                        home, someone shouting into
a mobile, another – one bare foot –

                        burping through three litres of cola,
            the rest of us facing each other like in-
                                    determinate alternatives, swaying

and blinking into the night. The edge
                        of the palm of your hand that keeps
            appearing in the margins is

                                    to me the key to the long poem.

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