Weekend Poetry: Six Poems by Chris McCabe
the gentle pornography found in hedgerows
Albion’s trees were littered with pornography. Bushes fluffed with shreds of Frazzle. The hawthorn’s back was up, like a pigeon’s ruff. Gutters dealt out playing cards : legs parted in far-off limousines. Shoes trundled from cut-off wire. Space hoppers shrivelled like scrotums at sea.
The internet does it cleaner & everything moves. It was easier to hide a rummy hand beneath your shorts than close down three windows. Behind each one a leprechaun winks above a golden pot. What does roulette have to do with it?
Albion’s streets are relieved. Sparrows are on the incline. Cigarette packs carry warnings for the grown-ups. It’s hard not to look. Throats exposed to holes & growths.
Flesh never used to look like this.
i.m. Tom Raworth
a music box is a kind of ashtray
that poets put their elegies into
they do it in their voicebox
and grind until a memory forms
an elegy is a music box
that poets put their ash into
they do it in their memory
and grind until their voicebox forms
ZIGGY STARDUST had just one liver,
ALADDIN SANE, the aspen white of the Young American
had just one liver,
THIN WHITE DUKE, THE GOBLIN KING, just one liver,
MAJOR TOM, the ANONYMOUS MIME STAR,
just one liver across THREE MUSKETEERS
– the deck of cards is on the floor –
the phase of the EGYPTIAN GOD had just one liver,
one liver for THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH,
in the PUPPET PHASE he was the one with the liver,
there was just one liver
in the period of the VAMPIRE, a toothless skull
sourced from just one liver
DAVID ROBERT JONES
I will see you at the cowslips of Black Ditch,
I’ll have a burned heart & a thread of Milton’s hair,
Blake’s hawthorn & a cup of blood.
At Black Ditch meet me, we’ll flyerbomb the estate,
where the road cuts the Rye & stops
in a cloud of fieldfares & foraging choughs.
Will we meet on Catacombs Path or Dissenters Road?
Washed on the stone or dead on the steps?
Flick light, light flicker : until I come back.
After Hopkins' ‘The Windhover’
An unaccepted pint is a cubed kestrel, hovering on the wind.
Dauphin of the dulled moment’s resistance, this evening’s
evening crown stood chilled there above an oak beam,
then off to down with a swig, the gut & glug chicaning the pining
gullet as it smooths the throat’s glovepurse, the glow in the mind
of this glyph refused, the regalia of it, the crystal tardis of the thing!
Amber & wheat clouds to thrushes as it stirs the mind
from familiar grooves & the fire breaks in unexpected converse,
incomparable to the archived inbox & committee’s wet tinder.
No wonder of this : sabbatical fabric rips like face cloths
and the mind shines, O my director, emphatic Erdinger,
take wing your banknote to browngold sustenance!
Poets drive their car to an all night drive-in, alone, lay down a blanket & masturbate.
The poet’s car has three gears : hysterical, stuck & delirious.
Fuel, for the poet, is tanked old tears.
Under the poet’s dashboard is an archive of chewing gum, each one given the colour of a lipstick.
Every poet has a photograph of the car they wrote their first poem in. Here, look.
In the backseat poets watch pornography on other people’s data & call it research.
It is, the poet thinks, better to travel than arrive – hope doesn’t come into it.
What the poet sees in the rear view is their oeuvre receding.
Into a light that burns the eyes.
- Chris McCabe's poetry collections are The Hutton Inquiry, Zeppelins, THE RESTRUCTURE (all Salt Publishing) and, most recently, Speculatrix (Penned in the Margins). He has recorded a CD with the Poetry Archive and was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award in 2013 for his collaborative book with Maria Vlotides,Pharmapoetica. He is writing a series of creative non-fiction books that aim to discover a great lost poet in one of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries. This began in 2014 with In the Catacombs: a Summer Among the Dead Poets of West Norwood Cemetery (which was selected as an LRB Bookshop book of the year) and was followed in 2016 with Cenotaph South: Mapping the Lost Poets of Nunhead Cemetery. With Victoria Bean he is the co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015). He blogs at http://chris-mccabe.blogspot.co.uk/
Enjoyed this article?
Help us to fund independent journalism instead of buying:
Also in Disclaimer
Donald Trump will become the first sitting US President to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000. While many are intrigued as to what the US president will say, it actuasloly does not matter. A year into his presidency, the world is going about its business without referenceto Washington and is, increasingly, looking east.
The construction industry has always been characterised by uncertainty. Managing large construction projects involves enormous challenges, coming from the political, economic, social and technological environments involved. Carillion’s demise shows the risks that are encountered in an industry. We should be mindful of how Brexit compounds this.
The seeds of political downfall are sown early. Both David Cameron and Theresa May set in motion their own ends early in their leaderships. Jeremy Corbyn will be no different. The sin that will catch up with him is arrogance.
The collapse of Carillion is a catastrophe. 20,000 jobs are now under threat, while even more are at risk at the small firms that are owed money. But this is not the only disaster of recent times. The common theme from Grenfell Tower to GS4 at the 2012 Olympics is private sector outsourcing.
Nick Boles was right to warn that Theresa May needs to raise her game. She is offering second-rate leadership and has no domestic agenda. Even worse, her opponent Jeremy Corbyn is not offering an thought-through alternative. Britain is still ducking the challenges a decade after the banking crisis.