I have to write a poem
for a poetry reading
in the House of Parliament.
It's the House they don't use
since they closed it
some time ago. But it will do
for poems, the ‘Dorothy Dixers'
that live forever. Well, what to put
in my poem for the poetry reading?
Should I take a ‘heroic' theme
in tune with the atmosphere
of an historic building? Or would this
be wrenching my voice
a little too far? With a diaphragm
like mine, booming is an impossibility.
So I'll take a casual route
allowing accident to mingle
with intention. It could be
a Frank O'Hara type poem
as in "I did this, I did that"
(I looked at a map of Kent
calculating how long it would take
to walk from Sandwich to Canterbury
- Sandwich, because
it's just near Pegwell Bay
where William Dyce painted
his wonderful painting of people
on the beach, standing, as the sun falls,
in isolated groups in this liminal space
as though waiting for the end of something
- the nineteenth century? or some even more momentous
occurrence, like, say, the arrival
of visitors from another galaxy.
Actually they have just witnessed
(or failed to witness) the passing
of Donati's comet; an event
that dates the picture
precisely. It is October 5th, 1858.
(But now, as I write this poem
to be read in the Upper House
it is 6.30 p.m., July 20th, 2001.
On the SBS News, George W Bush
visits Europe, reads to uncomfortable children
in the British Museum Reading Room and offers:
"Marx, Lenin, Mark Twain, George W Bush".
A naked man sprints across the road
near Buckingham Palace. Genoa is fortified
against ‘anti-Globalist' protesters. In Nepal
the Prime Minister decides "to leave these
corridors of power" . . . Corridors
like these I'm (at this very moment) reading in?
"Corridors of poetry" sounds too
High School Confidential
(but all this detail draws me still further
from my objective: to introduce something
in a not inappropriate tone
to the present setting: red plush
of a House of Review
(though my poems are stuck
on a lower level, or at least somewhere
between the high ideal (the metapoetic?)
and the mundane;
bicameral in Spirit
if not in Action.
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem