16 October 2013

What Moves You?


An Address to the Sun:

one of twin beacons,
brightest of all stars—
look kindly upon our
labors, our straining towards
the sky so that
our fingertips almost reach
the clouds, your heat
engendering our growth,
verdant-green, crisply
new beneath
blue skies and
bless us with those
golden rays that draw up
flowers from the tiniest seeds

Part I
The New Eden
a-tilt we go, into the
wild blue, speeding to that
new Eden promised us in
papery tracts, rocking on
the green salt ocean, the snap of
the sails a crack punctuating
thoughts of her future, the

her hands separating the seeds
to be planted for the first
harvest, the smooth-milled tears
a promise of their daily bread

and deep the furrows that
were dug in the black
earth, after disembarking
on the rocky coast, the
switches of trees talking
amongst themselves in the wind,
swaying, and the bird on the wing
sees all

the land parceled out, stone bound, towns
sprouting up to receive tall ships
carrying silks, tea, china for
our tables

further, then, into the woods
and the trees shuddering
with birds, the sleek cats
screeching in black night a foreign sound

and she set her hands to
carding wool and his to carving
stone, building up a new
world with the memory of the old still
within them, the cock’s crow stirring them, each day
to their daily labors, the oxen and horses graving
the fields into the lines from which sprout
a new language

embracing the strangeness of this
new, brave world, hemmed in by
green, the mysteries beyond still
unknown, banded by tributaries of rivers yet
to be crossed, mountains still to
surmount, and we, ever-
expanding, push to their
furthest limits our tools and
simple words, seeking succor in
this new Eden, winter-harsh,
the wind blowing off  the
water and still we
endure to make our mark in
lines of black and white,
ebony ink staining vellum, the
songs and stories breathed
into life around the fire,
enlivening the hours until the
dawn chorus and the
rosegold glow of sun in the
east rises

marking out more fields for
corn and wheat, those to
lie fallow, too

we learned the rhythm
of the land and
we were one with the land and
she one with us, our mouths
filled with her fruits, our
granaries bursting in autumn,
after the seven lean years came
the seven fat—and so, we gave
thanks in music and dance,
raising our voices ever and
again, shattering silence

Part 2

Ever-Moving Westwards

digging out deep veins of
black and silver
ore and the
siren-scream calls
men-women-children to
work, the insistent machine
driving, driving, driving,
humming a second heartbeat,
larger, louder, piston-shiny,
as grey smoke muddies
the skies and sleek
metallic rattling creates the
din we cannot talk
through and river-streams are
silently befouled

our timecards punched, the
teeth tearing through stiff paper
to mark our hours of industry,
the counting of the beads of
sweat on our brow, the
saltpearl crown, the
bottom line, the
treasure stored up,
thick reports of the exquisite time and motion
of expedient and efficient production

the electric light switches on,
crackling filament
brightening her way to an
early shift, her coarsened
hands enclosed in gloves,
hair netted, the machines
clack-clack-clack induces a
fever, at first, until the
girls are used to it, the
bobbins spin, multicolored, rainbow
producing miles of textiles, flower-
spriggged, for curtains, or
thick-tufted carpets, these
buildings casting long shadows,
narrow alleyways through which to
run, hoping
for a glimpse of sun before dusk

spreading, so, westwards we
went, erecting in stone, metal
concrete, these cathedrals
of industry, pouring molten metal
into forms, a righteous and
proper use of resources, the
metal spines holding up their
bodies of cement and brick,
shining rails along which
the trains sped, smoking black,
across fields of corn, cotton,
wheat, past heads of
complacent cattle led to the
killed with sleek efficiency, sinew
riven from bone, wrapped in paper
for the ever-hungry, ever-growing
mouth, never satiated,
always talking, talking, talking now
on the radio, the voices
borne as if by magic through
the air, the electric
thrum-hum of music, too, shimmering
through the long afternoons
the steno-typist, listening
to her dictaphone, tapping out
the latest orders,
the recent improvements of their
most durable and
popular models
guaranteed to
give satisfaction

while he toils on an
assembly line, one small part of
a process, working towards a
specific, streamlined end,
the final, shiny product is
(for your approval)
wrapped in tissue,
sent out to the four corners of this
earth, contracted now
by telephone and telegraph,
cables sending news of
birth, death, and safe
arrival on foreign shores,
of battles won and lost, of
joys and sorrows, the papery slips
saved at the bottom of a bureau drawer

these territories crackling with
electricity upon metal, the
ever-expanding grid of brightness encroaching
upon dark, making night day
again for all our
entertainments, celebrating a new
age of industry, self-improvement,
endless possibility

these birds stretching their wings
so that they fly faster, straighter,

smokestacks belching fire and
staining the sky, a curving script
disappearing as it appears, melting
into the blue, signaling
patterns of production and
mass consumption supporting
mass production

as liquid glass is molded into jars
for canning the last vegetables of
the season, the
viands that will see them through the
winter, set aside with careful hands, metal banded,

refrigerated boxcars of flowers,
replete with snowy petals
destined for the florist’s
deftly working fingers, speeds eastwards,
emerging from that land of
milk and honey we
so eagerly anticipated, the
fruit dropping from the sky into
our hands, the earth yielding
all to us

Part 3

Into Blue-skied Tomorrow

into blue-skied tomorrow
looking on with the eye
of God as
invisible streams of
silent electrons
converge in
fluorescent laboratories
and we note down
celestial measurements

the dust settled from
our crowning glories
searing deserts with
their photographic flash,
stirring up cataracts,
undulating in glowing
circles, distant cousin
to the neon piped
the length of the
brick ballroom
calling us to dance,
shaking out our
crinolines, straightening
thin-seamed nylons

magic minerals
shingle our homes, the
chemist has created
the home of the future,
complete with backyard
fallout shelter and
tinned water, as new
highways snake ever further, thick
cement veins displacing green, black-asphalt tarred

and sleek sedans barrel along:
to grandmother’s house we go,
decked out in man-made fibres, bearing
wax fruit on a melamine platter
while grey-coated cryptographers decipher
the words upon the wall,
tapping out messages from one
side to the other, the
all-seeing eyes of cameras
trained on each other,
the snatches of fabric caught
on the wires stand out,
white hot flames dispelling night

as curtain-fabrics, newly bright,
unmuddied, prism-fine,
slip through the hand of
the decorator—no more the
durable, somber greys and browns—
now are unleashed the butter yellow and
vivid cyclamen to astound the
eyes looking out upon
the world, billowing, mad with
polka-dots, a breath of air
shuddering their underpinnings

and children’s voices lisp, in
unison, the common carols of
youth, and voices listing, in double-
column type, names,
associations, tapped out, black/white,
as casefiles, papery-thick, are
written by landladies

and still the world
contracts, copper-wired, shining back
at the sun, tying us ever more
tightly together, the
reverberation throbbing into a
starry night as
music swells from a

forward, moving forward
always (look back and
you’re finished) to that
world always just
at your fingertips, as
he waxes out a scratch
on a tailfin
she smoothes the
wave of her hair,
the children veer and
sway, random isotopes
smashing the furniture,
rewriting their vision and
revisions, posting their inky-black
on every streetcorner

beneath the coursing
satellites skirting the sun,
sending images of
green, blue,
streaking greyveins of
smoke, billowing, the
hue and cry of all
humanity wirelessly joined
at the hip, trawling through
clouds of data, number-thick,
at our fingertips,
flying, ever closer to the
sun, envying still that
thickatom brightness
smashing, generating all, only
to have our wings of wax
melt at an inopportune moment

yet still we try, and try
again to fly our own
course, right, straight,
aiming for that finest moment of
movement, capture it, if you
can, in the reflection of a glass,
before it, too, is relegated to
memory, the notes for the
trajectory filed away,
diagrammed endlessly, the paper
figures cut to our own liking


An Address to the Moon:

so our song ends as the
pale companion of the sun
looks down, counting the
coursing of the tides, the
ever-shifting forms that illuminate
and grace the night, half in
shadow, glancing in and
out of the sight of electric
lights blinking, marking time,
the streetlights, too, of milky fluorescence, at pre-
determined intervals, set to
light our way as we move,
ceaselessly, towards our
own ends and the next dawn