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Three poems.

 

By ANTHONY HOWELL.

.

1. THE RESERVOIR

WAS THERE EVER a book that was censored because
It was a pack of lies? It will be the eagle’s choice,
His, and his alone. What we say, what we read,
And what we are will soon be what we were,
And sold for scrap, each superseded pylon here.

As some brave admiral in former war
Witnessing the decadence of an empire
Stuffed by the elevation of its fashionable minorities,
Tend your own garden. Spin the web that supports you
Out of your own innards. Shrouds fail to cope.

Banal signs inundate the web. Crowds hunger
Under a sobbing grey. She felt obliged to mask her joy.
But then, or now, the tense changes. Everything enlarges
And becomes normal. Doris barges past the other barges.
A strong breeze creates waves among the trees.

Poplars bring the sea to the canal. A pram’s on the loose!
Tall dead stalks cling on. Hardened nettles occupy
The foreground, the middle-ground. Cranes pose
Like herons, predatory, overlooking the reservoir.
Up go the blocks, ever less distant. This is a horizontal

Stretch defined by the edge of that great grass-surrounded tank,
Its bank raised some twenty feet above the towpath.
The Drum-sheds, it says, on the grey sheds on the other side.
One whole tree has gone yellow below the pylons
That lope across our straight lane for barges and on,

On, over a chill prairie of nettles and docks
Punctuated by hawthorn or a teasel.
Look how the lines are etched onto a dying day,
The clouds bleeding into a soft whirlpool.
Practise breathing through the nose during your constitutional.

.

2. THAT SINKING FEELING

I’D LIKE TO reveal my deepest secrets.
Want to hide my deepest secrets too.
Secrets I invigilate by writing
Poems not a soul shall ever view.

Everything bounces anyway,
Whether submission or cheque.
Each rejection makes me bluer still
While she steals into my bedroom like a breeze

On the night I notice my infection.
Paranoia’s nothing but the truth.
Notoriety of our local murder rate
Encourages our black youth to read the papers.

Education moves in mysterious ways.
Wasn’t I thrown out of jail
For teaching them to rap about
The pigs, the phonies and the screws?

Long comb stuck into his dreads.
“The money don’t have feelings.
The money own all sides.
She going round the bush again.”

And me I’m stuck without a bean,
Staring at my folly.
Answers keep dissolving into fog.
How is one to bear this melancholy?

Whittling the stick, tormenting the dog
As Poverty tries to repair his crutches,
I’m going under: arguments, old age, disease…
Only my grandfather’s dictum applies:

“Unless we get well into deep water frequently
We shall never learn to swim with ease.”

.

3. NIGHTS IN

LIKE A TITMOUSE visiting the Grand Canyon
I am watching porn on my big Samsung
Screen which is also a television.

Breath-taking views! Perhaps it’s rather more
Like Mount Rushmore: monumental heads
Giving head and so on. One of the girls is

Generous of mien, with such a sympathetic
Disposition that I keep thinking about her
Even after she has served her purpose, as it were,

And in a pleasantly emptied way, I am watching
Kilauea spill its lava over small-holdings
And garbage bins on an island which is part

Of the Hawaiian archipelago. I was a fan
Of Tulsi’s, you know, but that was months and
Months ago, before she caved in and endorsed

Sleepy Joe. There are now indications though
That Tulsi will erupt again and demand
The repeal of the Patriot Act, even get the troops

Brought back, as a lava fountain spews out more
And more molten material from earth’s unruly core.
I love my screen which enhances everything

American – like a 1950s Oldsmobile –
Despite a map of Ireland seeping through my
Pyjamas. However lonely I feel,

These sperm and lava panoramas
Last me till midnight, if accompanied by
A Hollywood blockbuster, probably watched

Less than a month before, with amnesia part
Of the package. Seriously sensual though,
My ‘constellation’ hails from Eastern Europe,

The screen’s Korean, and the coming age
A tidal wave approaching from the East.
Our onanistic West is spent, to say the least.

We need a sage, not some rough beast.
We need a sage, not some rough beast.
We need a sage, not some rough beast.


Anthony HowellAnthony Howell, a former dancer with the Royal Ballet, was founder of The Theatre of Mistakes and performed solo at the Hayward Gallery and at the Sydney Biennale. His articles on visual art, dance, performance, and poetry have appeared in many publications including Art Monthly, The London Magazine, Harpers & Queen, The Times Literary Supplement. He is a contributing editor of  The Fortnightly Review. In 2001 he received a LADA bursary to study the tango in Buenos Aires and now teaches the dance at his studio/gallery The Room in Tottenham Hale. He is the author of a seminal textbookThe Analysis of Performance Art: A Guide to Its Theory and PracticeDetails about his collaborative project, Grey Suit Online, are here. In 2019, his exploration of psychic chaos, Multilation (with Consciouness), was published by the Fortnightly’s imprint, Odd Volumes. His latest collection is From Inside (The High Window).

 

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