I'm pleased to post a recent prose-poem by Brighton poet Robert Taylor this morning. I was very taken by the way it wedges strands of interior monologue and glimpses of lyric accord against caustic observational shards blurring into political invective, the tenuous voice of individual consciousness increasingly marginalised by anomie, austerity and media-logorrhea. Timely to note a whole new wave of poetry responding to the unprecedentedly intolerable state of disrepair the government has left our infrastructure and welfare state in, too preoccupied with the ongoing catastrophe of Brexit to lift a finger of assistance or even acknowledge the levels of personal disaffection and privation their policies are causing.
1st winter plumage of gulls and waders
Your eyes have gathered up
off the rippled sunlit mud
of the tidal river for your occipital lobe to lovingly arrange in beautiful plates and the wash of skies and tops of buildings also being registered from smut-spatter window race and swish of forward motion somewhere under you.
Not a ringtone doesn’t grate like blackboard scrape today, but if the voice behind you answers this with ‘yeah, I’m on the train’ you might snap the ear-wincing drink holder/tray from off the seat in front.
So much for all of that: so what.
Later on. Back indoors again, the resumed frenzies of adjacent refurbishing machinery; power tools your mind can’t differentiate. For a minute they/it grinds, teasing, to abrupt silence only to resume in full redoubling tumult - incessant as the self-excoriations, ensconced, ruptured shut, scotched after the petty agon of return; the endless tiny collisions to get home
- you can’t remember at what point each encounter with the street came to seem continuous onrush of hostility, of rancour, or the pre-emptive strikes of swiftly shot glares. That which is perceived. And every twenty, thirty yards another shelterless encampment: an utterness of abandonment. The motherless pietàs. You are not a violent person but on the Tory Party you wish some form of actual collective death.
But hey, somehow, you made your way from station to fumbling the sticking lock with vague anticipation’s crouching dread of franked, brown-enveloped hate mail waiting for you on the hallway floor. You the working poor. Marked 2nd class.
Then, in your flat with curtains drawn: a circumventing further inference from passage of daylight hints of the galloping cavalcade of watched and watching clocks and watches. Hurtle of money the permanent hurt.
The pitched, mechanical screaming, when did it replace, as the accompaniment to sparse codings in your axons, the summer sound of distant engine burring warm through the gentle blue, the dying fall, of light aircraft’s slow receding, inflections lapsing in air like they were gearshifts in the cochlea itself; the kindlier sense of solitude what’s past confers to equivocate perceptions of the seemingly identical phenomena?
The din through the wall at length shuts down and soon, you’re aware, abiding constancy of tinnitus resumes its level squealing pitch - it’s every bit as violent if you let yourself tune in. Try to ‘refocus’, ‘find your centre’ ..you hear generic Facebook advice: ‘avoid negative people. They hold you back’ You concentrate diligently on avoiding yourself...
What can you do? Try to be kinder. To yourself. To others. Forgive and ‘be in the now’ (as though there were alternatives).
Great Wall of China winding in a hazed and endless distance, the ridged spinal taper of any infinite monitor lizard. The fluttered stand of pale green rushes skirting the marsh, the floppy fringes that run the length of a huge pale green iguana’s back like an old biker’s jacket sleeve. This was your meditation. So what: so much for that.
There is no such thing as the present. You are bitched and entailed to the lizard stump, guttering in the adrenal sump, cortisone lapping at the base of your beating throat. The present is merely this panicky surge between
what just happened and
what will happen next