In psephological darkness—by which I mean barely being able to see it through the pebbles that have buried us—
Let’s proposition the sky.
Sound it out on the prospect of its being our lover.
I fear I may have lost you
By this point.
I was unflappable for a long time about making the weather
A symbol for the longings I held inside.
The whole shebang wheeled around me
in mockery, or apparently so.
But this was all before the coast sunk in.
Listen, I’m sorry—all the bitching/carping/grousing
was actually just the generic whininess of man.
There is no view that isn’t through the forehead,
The sorrow of the deforested land
That wants its logging industry back
Is registered as a complaint
An imaginary one, spoken to me,
By me, softly whispered to
How much better it is to have lived
Through spring days where it’s like
The saturation’s been turned up on all the colours,
Even if you’re impoverished enough in sensibility to need
To overlay a screen in order
To appreciate anything!
I don’t regret life.
Not even my youth.
Nor how the little point of light
You sometimes see when you’re a passenger
That swims up over the window
Of every passing car
Jumping fishlike over the glass
Is almost entirely unshareable
And probably means less to you:
Never to be shattered into a rainbow,
Never a promissory note
To be cashed in at those moments when you’ve left the party in desolation, outvoted in your hatred of Fleetwood Mac, outvoted on everything, in fact.
What is life but defeat?—
Indefinite defeat, I wrote in another poem hoping that that ambiguity would show
How optimism’s kept alive in poetry
Through studied wishfulness,
Waves of mutability,
Even when you’re cornered in the obvious squalor of the obvious prose sense.
I still think this, but I no longer think it depends
On your being
Able to glimpse hope
In the way I control
I talk lucidly about despair, as if the words
Cut in the beige walls
We see the night that lends us meaning in its offering to rob us blind,
Divest us of ourselves,
But also possibly the stars.
(this happens with ink
When if gets some sun sometimes,
I mean we see them
Not that they’ll be gone).
I still think this too,
But I want you
To know it as you read the poem
Which is a bewilderment,
A moment made a beacon,
And as you look back at the statue
Over your shoulder
And see its epaulettes of pigeon shit,
The city which is love and management irreconcilable
At least as far as I can see.
I was borne away into nothingness in the back of a car and awoke
To see them (the stars) once as they dwindled and some nonspecific cliffs grew clearer
On the other side
And thought this might be the kind of content
I was looking for
To keep people interested,
In the absence of any memorable dreams,
In the pernickitiness of utopian form.
Simpler commands will come
When we acknowledge that the world is one
Place, one soul
That I did not want to be buried in this inhumane apparatus,
This statue, taken from its pedestal
On the long drive
And awkwardly made to relate to nature,
Nor for it to be worn down to a pebble,
Tossed into a river,
To almost fall into the sea, to be fished out again,
Placed on a cairn
That by its added weight, and with a little help from the rain
Collapsed the whole cliff it stood on
Bringing down the barriers for entry to every person.
Hugh Foley  has recently finished a DPhil in English.