Greed. Politics. Corruption Beyond Surrealistic Conception - Poem by Patrick White
Greed. Politics. Corruption beyond surrealistic
conception. I’m going mad in self defence.
The delusion of insanity doesn’t look so bad
from here. How did these distortions get
elected to represent the things I stubbornly believe
I so breezily accepted in the sixties? The mediocrities
are fracking the well of the muses and the astronauts
have grown old and died of gravity that use
to float freely high, high above the earth.
There are perennial truths to our experience
of humanity, of being human, that endure,
without divine sanction, or with if you prefer,
to this very day like oxygen and water. Love
and understanding, compassion, empathy,
pity if it’s not meant to destroy someone,
freedom to say, protest, or create without
a profit margin being where all things come to rest
like autumn leaves in a gutter with an iron grate.
Fifty years, a poetic heretic, a literate demon
good for the angels’ imaginations if they’ve
got one among them left of their own. As well
as those abject modes of starmud that
have no idea of what’s shining within them.
The frogs have dressed up like cannibals
far to the east and everything is scum,
born that way like the cosmic eggs of a priest.
Is the day ever going to come, not as
a supernatural act of intervention, whether
God’s an extraterrestrial or not who sneers
at our technology, people realize they need
each other as a coral reef needs the moon
to remind the polyps they’re not alone?
I’ve had enough. I’m overwhelmed
by the termites munching in the house of life,
untimbering the heartwood of the rafters,
undermining the foundations we built
our pyres on, turning our walls to a weather front
as if the rest of us were the asteroids
of a natural catastrophe with hidden strings
like a kite that nose-dived like a puppet
into the powerlines that ignited a universal
conflagration, a good capitalist that fed
on everything it touched, Midas in a vegetable garden
looking for a golden harvest under
the genetically modified rocks that feel
more like a skull of dry ice that’s been fuming
forever it seems, sublimating itself as smoke
and ghosts since the beginning of this new fire age.
I can’t believe how the one-eyed liar can deceive
the many new ways of communicating life
and death issues with the convenience of a cellphone.
A fly on a computer screen. Even walking
beside the Tay River that never lies to me
like my own mindstream offering me a mirage
of what there is to drink from my own reflection.
I see the stems of the fallen leaves stacked
like a logjam or the wicks of clear cut candles
whose flames are single petalled starmaps
of someone who didn’t have to ask if they
were loved or not better in solitude than company.
I feel the suffering of everyone until
I can see it somewhere between the treeline
where the river winds, and the stars overhead
that made it all possible in the shining forges
of their fire-wombs, the sacred smithies who said
one half of you shall plough the moon,
the other, raise a sword against water
that can’t be wounded by the tears in your eyes.
And for the mad espionage of the war mongers
there’s always an adulterous fishing net
the dolphins, muscled as they are, get snagged in
like a spider web, a dream-catcher, a suspension bridge
on fire with the naked acts of the truth
that has no where to hide its eyes or alibis or lies.
How many gates and front doors, entrances compared
to the back, emergency exits, second-holes
of a groundhog’s labyrinth in this house of pain?
I see it in the junkie prostitute’s eyes at twenty seven
open to whatever comes though she puts
a smile on her life to gloss over it and keep
up with the Joneses. I see it in the bones
of the baby muskrat the wolves have been
sniffing around for from the day it was born.
And even the thick asphalt of the rat snake
that made its way through the grass like
a highway slick with rain. Pain. Until
it doesn’t matter anymore it tastes the air
as if it were witching for water with forked lightning.
A million hues of oxymorons on a colour wheel
turning grey as the journey gets longer
than shadows at moonrise on a premeditative sundial.
The agony of giving birth to something bigger
than a self. The impersonality of suffering
though you send it birthday cards that are
always well-meaning however absurd it is
to believe your pain taught you anything but how
to hurt as if it were teaching you to transcend yourself.
Even if you wanted to be a fountain efflorescing
like a mirage in an eyeless desert and you
turned out to be a waterclock going supernova
in the endless emptiness of a blossoming flower.
Even if you walk alone by the Tay River
as you have a hundred troubled times before
at night when the willows, in the summer
of their long green locks, or in the winter
when they open a bordello, are on
a first name basis with your business here.
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