Vietnam, Kings Place
‘A woman mourns her husband killed during the insurgent occupation
as part of the Tet offensive’
The howling tornness, her stretched fingers creating the rhythm of the photograph among the waves of sand. What’s left of him is wrapped in plastic. She puts her hat over his head. She wails; we hear it through the glass; I see my shadow kneeling on the gallery floor.
People walk by and shadow the wall. It was April 11th, 1969. Today is April 11th, 2015.
The woman still wails and weeps. It is hard to imagine her returning to children, carrying on. The bright sun on the white wall, so appropriate for the desert scene, 46 years later, the Guardian’s new building pristine. My body older than the one that danced and wrote poetry in the safety of England’s green and pleasant land.
But that scream, on the escalator wall, it resounds, it calls, it keens.
In the silence of the mass grave, 47 bodies. A woman mourns.
I get up to go from kneeling at the foot of a photo. The passers-by feel sorry as I haul myself up. I feel sorry looking at her body still on her haunches, face raised to the sky.
The rhythm of sorrow. The occupation of Hue. The Tet offensive.
From Vietnam 1969 to London 2015. A world away, a death unfolds.
I feel I am waving to you from the end of the pier
Some of you are in a boat putting out to sea
whilst others are walking along the promenade
There is a promontory, a headland extending out
as far as this pier and a man is
teetering on the edge trying to find the courage to jump
I have no intentions to jump or to save
to swim or sink, I recognise I have
no choice and intention is the very vaguest
of issues. Three lines, many words, it all looks neat
but hidden inside is a coming to be that knows
no limits and as I am not the actor but rather
the acted upon, the acted through, I cannot say what
will occur. But I wave to you nevertheless
Never the most, I acknowledge you. The sea is a rugged sailor.
It was not Napoleon who directed the course of the battle, for none of his orders were carried out and during the battle he did not know what was going on […] it only seemed to Napoleon that it all took place by his will -Tolstoy 1869)
quote cited in Obliquity by John Kay
Blue’s intensity is no less pertinent
now than the sky ever knew
gazing blue into ocean’s blueness
blue became his mood for all those
blue edged sunsets when the Bayou
called like blue wolves, simmering
in their acquiescence to the truth
But that afternoon when the blue airmail
envelope arrived with a blue stamp
printed ‘not known at this address’
he finally blew his top. A hole in the
ground no bigger than the mouth of
the bottle of ‘Blue Nun’ in his mother’s
pantry held the stylised demise he dreamt of
The wind blew fierce. Blue lips iced
his frozen heart as he, so passionate
in his reveries blew his blue dreams home,
shoreward they caved in, fell through clouds
in the blue sky landing in the blue dreams lake.
‘I shall never say the word again,” he sighed
and signed his name, Azure Azul, Amen
The sound of bright water
cascaded through the room
and rainbows dissolved
along the window glass
flowing onto the desks
and across the parquet floor
The sound of chalk
scraped the blackboard
breaking and tumbling floorward
the teacher’s voice then
asking where I was
and would I kindly return to the room
Journeying endlessly through
the minds recesses
the ever-changing weather
on the screen of vision
television of the sultry skies
geography lost in the vain wonder of the world
The ruler beating time on my hand
the cheers of comrades in class later
the irritation in her voice
the anger the loser in the competition
primary school windows held the greatest
show on earth, sunshine and rain
Could a northern school room, the Gobi desert
Icelandic tundra compete with that?
Remembrance and what a catastrophe.
To have the calendar filled with days
of recall, relive, recollect.
It happens of course, the body collects
the reiteration of events in the contraction of the muscles
And the flabbergasting of the cells
Passing through areas of the city
The past comes flooding back
And the waves threaten overwhelm
Remembering so much
Is there space for the newness
of Self’s seeing to enter?
The house is filled to overflowing with tokens of the past,
hours were spent living
then weeks are spent reliving
Casting clouts before us as we steam through
accruing the wallpaper and events to remember it by
The brain has several sections
that fan fMRI scan’s glow
So why the boxes full of stuff
I ask myself
Why not just let go
And watch the dust of love
fly high then fall on all
and hush, grey snow ensues.
The Wordness of Wild
She said she does alphabets
with her ankles whilst queuing in the bank
I said what we need are nuclear powered
scanners like those in airports
We merely stand and transparency is achieved
but then chaos would reign
since the terror of disease
kept hidden by the skin
is far greater than random violence
widespread because we are endemic with dis ease
He ran his hand across the bubbled black surface
then told me what it was after asking did I know
London lava, burnt brick I said
and don’t remember the carbon dated
explanation of what and why and how (apart from “after the war”)
Remembering nothing sinks acres
of flight into the calmed glands
Images fly and dive
and passing through leave no trace
except a vague remembrance.
I will remember this day by it’s evening light
the girl in King George’s field
sitting in the last shafts of light beneath the tall tree
The beauty of Clapton Common
uncommonly lit late into the evening
the four creatures skirting the Georgian church
and starlight in a future dream
To day and night much love, much love.