(Notes from a Lecture Delivered by a Former English Poet Laureate)
At the age of six you were a bloody little genius
Bauxite was the only word you could spell
But I knew the year of the Battle of Hastings
from a title on the spine of one of mother’s books
salvaged by the boxload at an auction for fleeced up
calculators. Now, in the online gallery I follow you
around like a fox, impressed by your use
of the word formaldehyde. You stink of it and I’m arrested
skinking the meat off the bones you left in a box
of araldite, glued, I thought, on site, for me to you,
your plexiglass apiary. Some kind of art world
controversy dogs me like a blue
kettle so that anyone who makes a film I love.
Study for a running spotlight, scrounging
for sunshine in the flangular nape of the broad
eighteenth century, soldiers waft like truffle oil.
It’s only when you come to the harbor /
that you realize how you miss it.
A Nobel Prize is not enough, you have to kiss arse as well.
Massive sense of self peers piggishly from the space between
brain and brow. Wishes critics would see in his poems
mistrust of the middle classes forbidden entry to the mistaken
political observation. The next day in The Australian
Diabetica. Sweet graves. Lying in your vat of sugar.
Where you make the mistake is where the profundity
is Botch = depth. Computer manuscripts read like they were
yesterday. The other one, skinny and honking like a goose.
Getting you confused with some other English-speaking
painter. Someone re: cycling can read your mind.
Born of albatross, ruby skilled, fleeced sixty thousand on the first day.
Allied and German, loss of innocence, the beginning of a summer
techno war. Definition of poetry wider even than the world
War II. Tradition that goes back to Homer. Purification
critiqued—Swimmers into cleanness leaping. All the hills and vales
avoid reality. Oh, the mouthless dead. It is easy
to be dead. I tried it once, before I turned to early British
modernism culled by war
Relies on Americans for the subject of death itself
Killed at Loos in 1915. Looking for English publisher.
Head of Brass makes love to Thomas Hardy:
‘If we could see all, then all might seem good,’
said the biography of the new Francis
Webb my love of Elizabethan melody
disrupted by the eradication of music /
Isaac Rosenberg is not an officer;
Married to a dozen unfinished poems.
Difficult to finish when bombs going off
but love gives sense of urgency.
The red wet / thing
permeates poems, tests my lungs for ancient value.
You would think people would care less as they get older
but it’s not the case. Crumble me
into the torn fields of France.
Poppies whose roots are in men’s veins /
Six-thirty or seven is fine with me. They meet
and begin writing poetry. Just when you thought it was over
cosmopolitan rats. We all hate home / and having to be there:
touching the hands of the opiate connotation.
Democratic erotic emphasized by
Dust of an allusion to Thomas Nash. Reverse curate
your palimpsest perception. This is the Real
Departure from previous sentimentality.
Met Wilfred Owen at the war hospital in Edinburgh.
Gave him my poems. Each slow dusk is an anthem
for doomed youth. Killed in an oven a week
before victory. Telegram arrived on the doorstep of mother’s
bells, sounding like history like bella bellissimo.
The ‘yeasted up’ language of Keats
hi on the rise of a lifetime on lips. Freudian
assumption of increased tenderness for mankind
something of a Spring
Offensive. ‘Some say god caught them
before they even fell.’ Poetry thus emerges
from the belly of the premodern. But why Owen?
nude cantata passes through, streams of globulated
five percent civilians killed = sixty percent nature
technology. Arden Lewis died in Burma. We think he
shot himself. Back in England, we think
he shot himself. Poem ends with reference to
Edward Thomas. Village of steep hill now shoulder
of mutton. All day it is raining
Dreadlock the naming of parts
Not a decent set on them, Mother has said.
Mother loved bodies and trying to kill them.
Where the bullet stopped.
After the first death there is no other.
Song of the dying gunner, buying ballads
by the metre, angling high for the death
of a ball turret gunner.
Here the lover and killer are mingled.
Being damned I am amused. Just
hear this and we can go our separate ways:
I went with father to the trench of Pozieres
wallop of cods and swallow of whistle.
Lying in a field of deadly flowers,
Black bird of trespass I drink you
1 June 2013