Saturday, April 15, 2006

From unpublished ms. "Tales of the OOtd War"


I will not weary the reader with a description
of measured, floating, unconcerned intervals,
taken for targets, into which the second winter
storm had fallen, destroying the object before it
opened on that long morning and longer afternoon,
more absorbed than secure again in the presence
of the military, in the dark tides of safety,
in the rain and darkness watching church towers
slide down into ruin, carrying away both rudder
and anchor, night and the dawn rising up
like flotsam and an almost continuous streamer
of loneliness in human skins. Apparently we are
getting ready for a struggle. Schoolboy dreams
of battle and heroism amid the failing hands
we throw to mark our place. And in the sky
the sight of all this armament, imagination
were mysterious as well as busy, and morning
contains only a very inaccurate description
of the killing of an inch of ourselves, every jolt,
the blood busy in our pit with a hollow sound
of hammering heard for the first time as the dead
on the outskirts lock up and leave, talking
vigorously about the battle, the trees, blood red,
an unfamiliar everything behind the wagon
that we flung him in, the man in a ditch
with a flag on a long pole, become belligerent
for some desperate glory without success.
As much notice of such confessions made
to signal as the stereotyped glittering formulae
smothering on innocent tongues, knowing
no power for use against the body, helpless
in that pit of ours, swollen full of flags
and pennants and sadness come clattering
down like hussars burst into smoky red flame
under the railway bridge where men fall
into heard music and the colours of earth.
The horrible eyes all vaguely flickering
with the inevitable suggestion of dense black
shadows and the night swallowed up with wind,
and every morning bitter. Beyond the shore
there are waters blown by loneliness
into our heritage, the colossal mechanism
so lonely laid away. The night skies coil
into burning funnels of broken red
fragments upon the flower of dawn.
All this is ended now. All else begins.