:: Article

Four Poems

By Alistair Noon.

The Science Page

On knowledge they have seldom got it wrong,
the Chinese. Confucius: It is a joy
to learn, though not in government employ.

Put in some study daily: Mao Zedong.

So every morning now, before I clear
our denuded bowls off into the sink
I speed my brain’s development, and think
with Red Guard zeal, or how disciples hear:

Peruvian glaciers now in jeopardy.
British sex worst, new research indicates.
Nosepicking genetic. News from the States:
Nutritionists Advise Drink Less Black Tea.

I know that every text’s a harvest, curse
or Gilgamesh, notched on a slab of clay
or inked on tomb walls. How’s this? World Created
in a Week.
Or else: Sun Revolves round Earth.

Back I’ll go to my daily paradigm
of dish and dash, forget all global danger,
and live without the breaking news from Nature:
no God or physics has the time for time.


Wrench open that bottle of vodka

Wrench open that bottle of vodka:
Moscow nutritionists have shown
that a daily half-litre of Stolichnaya
toughens both tissue and bone.

Swig it down like the Russians do,
from brimming, bottomless tumblers.
Inhale, bite bread and breathe out:
exercise strengthens the lungs.

But don’t slurp borshch between shots:
long term, fresh vegetables are lethal.
Those enzymes will track down your brain
like a wrecking crane a church steeple.

Pass me that glass. To the devils
who manage nutritional hell,
the headmasters, webmasters, editors,
and the whole of the Ministry of Health.


With the Gratefully Acknowledged Assistance Of

Thank you, I’ll take another glass of Prosecco
and snatch as many salmon snacks as bob past
with the bow-tied nymphs. Have the watery speeches
all been made? Alright, alright, this is my last.

Excuse my sandals and the stain on my shirt.
Fuel cell units, fine, but what are your thoughts
on voluntary mass sacrifice? Yes, I’ve an invite.
Canapés, I grant you, are great for the Arts.

If I can’t please Caesar, or defy Stalin, well,
you can find me online. One more? Brace brace!
Glory to the Priests whose vision’s a world
where no one need go without a parking space.


At the Kick-Off of Nations

The white blossom of poplars drifted
for weeks through the parks and streets,
dressing the bushes in Russia kits,
while the trees kept on their Ireland shirts.

By the hour, from the station an ocean would roar.
Whistles and cheers became bell-chimes.
And the mineshaft bass of an Alpine horn
sounded from a slender trumpet, as three guys

rounded the corner in their beachshorts,
bandanas, warpaint and sweat,
stumbled down the stairs and swung through the door
graffitied psychiatry.org, to the Gents.


Alistair Noon has lived in Berlin since the early nineties. His publications include At the Emptying of Dustbins (Oystercatcher), In People’s Park (Penumbra) and, as translator, The Last Drop: Versions of August Stramm (Intercapillary Editions, online) and Sixteen Poems: Monika Rinck (Barque). He reviews for Jacket, and is currently translating Osip Mandelstam. Photo courtesy of Clare Jephcott.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, October 27th, 2010.