By Will Stone.
The Extinction Plan
Moments of pain, progress driven,
the unwelcome clarity of time’s incision
enhanced by the new drug day,
where the late crimes roll and bask
and like lepers suddenly woken eyes
peer in on hastening apocalypse.
The drone of no return, the settling
of old scores, of charcoal petals,
the dark carpet of all that is predicted.
She who never arrived one step ahead
and all around you the ticking dead
on mobiles, lap tops or lost in conversation.
The extinction plan in motion,
as cut price charter flights steeply climb
over Ensor’s cornered skeleton.
In order to go on Schubert pens,
Munch paints death and the maiden.
Strindberg runs through the Latin Quarter
brandishing his hands, black and burned
from experiments with sulphur.
Chemically aroused, the crops rise up
all wrong, pale fields starved of minerals
and the ranks of replacement people.
Pointlessly piling up, more gaudy books
for the goat-stuffed python of ‘culture’,
the squalid scuffle for a shard of eternity
by interchangeable literary mediocrities.
Each repeats what has gone before.
The earth can take another sack of fear,
a single life’s strict toiling,
embittered aging, the dead weight of loss,
a case of cherished photographs
and a few limp sprigs of joy.
Noone wants to be dust.
Noone wants their love left out,
but nearly everyone finds the tramline
and the yawning board game lust.
In one dive billions of krill find God.
Ghostly, like a low gas flame
they go on a while unseen, they exist
to explain the blue whale’s darkness.
The airtight door is firmly closed,
no way out or in but the spyhole
where the interchangeable eye blinks,
just large enough for the flexing iris
the necessary aperture,
but the snake’s fang also hammers there,
leaving on the lens its dew-beads of venom.
Wipe it away, you the same species,
wipe it away and see more clearly
today what bleeds vacantly
over every newborn’s plucky scream.
Always the future with grappling iron
climbing back over our stubborn
rose smothered walls,
to ask why we took the easy climb,
why we went around, skirted
the unrelieved face of compacted bone,
why we still do not know
who reached out and drew
with their arm’s last strength
in the ocean of discarded clothes
The future asks ‘who?’
How many are coming to build
on a marsh of blood,
to walk, indifferent, over the ocean
of browning photographs?
Look into the spyhole,
step back and consider the mountain
against whose black cheek
a trickle of trapped lambs
show like stars.
But I know we will not climb there,
will delay at the fork,
are already picking our way back down.
Away, always away from the spyhole
swept by the seductive energy of voices,
swallowed by the great broiling sun
of our single precious and worthless life.
They who waited to meet us at the high pass
with the emblems they had hidden,
with the last minute they remained alive,
they kept our future breath as a charm
a jewel swallowed, or set forever
in the darkness of a folded palm.
Guided Tour of the Ruins
Gather round, ladies and gentlemen,
and behold, for this was their city
their profound well, reflecting
a sad constellation of cheap tin stars.
Nourished on the hampers of decadence,
still they breathed in night’s mint air
and under the elaborate tortures
of their own design, finally confessed…
Let us begin downtown, when,
on gala night, the hysterical movie star
was suddenly impaled
on a lance of white-hot realisation.
How she struggled to swab her wound
as the onyx limousine pulled away.
Let us remember, ladies and gentlemen,
the day when all finally awake
and fight to take cuttings
from madmen’s brains.
Imagine, if you will, how worms feel
when finally the rotten apple gives.
Imagine the hardest winter,
imagine the longest scream
quite unable to fade, for that is how
this generation lived…
Christ on the Cross – Delacroix
Tearing away from the nails
towards the blind to come,
the twisted rope coil of flesh
everything of his will, the pale flame
licks up for the murmur of the crowd.
The eyes are driven back towards
the backward gazing retinue of gods,
eyes where hot coals have rolled
down the incline from believers’ doubts.
Lifted up to weaken before Golgotha’s prowling nimbus,
kneeling in thickets, a cliff, grim and hopeless
the light on its way but too far behind,
delayed at a bend in the river
and the watching face of the town
that stoops instinctively to drink …
Human work – two wedges hammered down
no Mary, no mourners, no soldiers
only bare brownish blood-soiled ground
and the rent sail of a loin cloth
dragged out behind, flying its bloody ensign,
and above the broad bow of ribs
head hard back, stiffened
like a strapped-down lunatic.
The lips, berry-blackened, seized
in the siren awakening of putrefaction.
Then the arms, hands pinioned yet travelling
nailed to prove they can’t perform,
yet still this moonlit weapon is carried down
the mercury tributaries of mankind,
forever primed, meeting no obstacle
and perfectly aimed, a harpoon still shining,
still standing in the sea-sluiced wound
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Stone, born 1966, is a poet living in Suffolk. In November 2008 his first collection Glaciation, published by Salt, won the international Glen Dimplex Award for poetry. His published translations include To The Silenced – selected poems of Georg Trakl (Arc Publications, 2005). Arc will also publish two further collections of translations of long neglected Belgian poets Emile Verhaeren and Georges Rodenbach in 2010. A first English translation of Stefan Zweig’s travel writings will also appear in 2010 from Hesperus Press.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, November 6th, 2009.