Everyone Hates the English
Everyone hates the English,
Including the English. They sneer
At each other for being so English,
So what are they doing here,
The English? It’s thick with the English,
All over the country. Why?
Anyone ever born English
Should shut up, or fuck off, or die.
Anyone ever born English
Should hold their extraction in scorn
And apologise all over England
For ever at all being born,
For that’s how it is, being English;
Fodder for any old scoff
That England might be a nice country
If only the English fucked off!
How wonderfully it was all arranged that each
Of us had not too long to live. This is one
Of the main snags—the shortness of the day.
The whole wood was whispering, “Dash it, dash it….”
What joy—to walk along that path! The snow
Was so fragrant in the sun! What a fish!
Whenever I think of death, the same stupid
Question arises: “What’s to be done?”
As for myself, I can only speak of what
Made me marvel when I saw it for the first time.
I remember my own youth when I was in love.
I remember a puddle rippling, the insects aroused.
I remember our own springtime when my lady told me:
You have taken my best. And then I remember
How many evenings I have waited, how much
I have been through for this one evening on earth.
At home, in my flannel gown, like a bear to its floe,
I clambered to bed; up the globe’s impossible sides
I sailed all night—till at last, with my black beard,
My furs and my dogs, I stood at the northern pole.
There in the childish night my companions lay frozen,
The stiff furs knocked at my starveling throat,
And I gave my great sigh: the flakes came huddling,
Were they really my end? In the darkness I turned to my rest.
—Here, the flag snaps in the glare and silence
Of the unbroken ice. I stand here,
The dogs bark, my beard is black, and I stare
At the North Pole . . .
And now what? Why, go back.
Turn as I please, my step is to the south.
The world—my world spins on this final point
Of cold and wretchedness: all lines, all winds
End in this whirlpool I at last discover.
And it is meaningless. In the child’s bed
After the night’s voyage, in that warm world
Where people work and suffer for the end
That crowns the pain—in that Cloud-Cuckoo-Land
I reached my North and it had meaning.
Here at the actual pole of my existence,
Where all that I have done is meaningless,
Where I die or live by accident alone—
Where, living or dying, I am still alone;
Here where North, the night, the berg of death
Crowd me out of the ignorant darkness,
I see at last that all the knowledge
I wrung from the darkness—that the darkness flung me—
Is worthless as ignorance: nothing comes from nothing,
The darkness from the darkness. Pain comes from the darkness
And we call it wisdom. It is pain.
Like a net my fingers skim
tap water, cleaning mung bean sprouts
the way you showed me.
From my palm I find the whole
ones, fetal curvatures with scalps
blossoming on tiny yellowed skulls.
My nail bisects the vertebrae
from primordial tail, roots
cast away in the sink.
Though I never learned
the purpose, it’s a habit that reminds me
of a time you let me in.
He was touched or he touched or
she did and was, or they were
and would. Or the room could, its
three doors, two windows or
the house on a slant touching,
touched by the drift down street, cars
pressing quick or slowing. All along
the town touched a river, the river
the filth falling through it. What was clean—
a source pure as rumor—a shore
touching lake touched by wind above,
and below, a spring. All touch blindly
further water. That blue touching
blacker regions in the sea so weirdly
solitary, each to under, to every
sideways past deeper, where nowhere.
I didn’t want to look at the huge white egg the mother spider dragged
along behind her, attached to her abdomen, held off the ground,
bigger than her own head–
and inside it: hundreds of baby spiders feeding off the nest,
and in what seemed like the next minute,
spinning their own webs quickly and crazily,
bumping into each other’s and breaking them, then mending
and moving over, and soon they got it right:
each in his or her own circle and running around it.
And then they slept,
each in the center of a glistening thing: a red dot in ether.
Last night the moon was as big as a house at the end of the street,
a white frame house, and rising,
and I thought of a room it was shining in, right then,
a room I might live in and can’t imagine yet.
And this morning, I thought of a place on the ocean where no one is,
no boat, no fish jumping,
just sunlight gleaming on the water, humps of water that hardly break.
I have argued bitterly with the man I love, and for two days
we haven’t spoken.
We argued about one thing, but really it was another.
I keep finding myself standing by the front windows looking out at the
and the walk that leads to the front door of this building,
white, unbroken by footprints.
Anything I’ve ever tried to keep by force I’ve lost.
In the Tongues of Bells
I decant a blossom. It goes before you.
You’re filled with Uriah. Green, tiny and pressed.
Blueness is a furious cake, a round
cake where yearning sleeps. Are the balls
the balls of the earth? At wells
and fountains? At Atlas’ pillar?
You say that you’d be my property.
You’d lose everything instantly.
I still wouldn’t notice you anymore, injured.
I choose from the thickness. Honey collects
cries. And when the body thickens and you get up
because I dress you, because I congeal you.
I erase you back in the past. I draw
a white flap, shine a white flap.
My body arcing across your white place
we mingle color and substance
wanting to mantle your cold
I share my face with you
but love becomes a lie
as we suffer through split masks
seeking the other half-self.
We are hung up
what we wish to be given