All Oblivious Enmity
2014-11-29 16:30:41 2014-11-30 19:02:41
B. A. RAMSEY
ALL OBLIVIOUS ENMITY
cosmic enmity, which consigns everything to oblivion,
oblivion, which is the enemy of everything
New Pelican Shakespeare
Lines Left Near A Wall Filled With Graffiti
WHICH STANDS BENEATH THE BLOOR VIADUCT,
ON AN INFAMOUS TRACT OF LAND,
COMMANDING MUCH PUBLIC ATTENTION.
On visionary views would fancy feed,
Till his eye streamed with tears.
Nay, Street Urchin! Rest – the dirty wall that stands
Not distant from crack alley: what if here
The graffiti marks the dirty spot;
What if these poor hovels collapse about:
Yet, if no foot falls come, this sheltered place
Would serve you a night's respite, and the lamp
Beyond this valley, might be your night light,
Whose gentle glow could thy slumbers diffuse.
-Who he was
That first tagged here, and with the canister
First covered o'er, and taught the lonely wall,
Now safe, to be a haven anchorage,
I well remember. - He was one who owned
No common soul. In youth, he was told off,
And told he wants too much, he with the hand
Was faced, was lawless because twas law
Of foul magistracy, 'gainst arrogance,
And pomp, against all corruption prepared,
But not the scythe: and so, his spirit fell
At once, in bitterness he turned away,
And in his inner life, darkened his soul
In solitude. - Urchin! these bright colours
Had charms for him; and here he loved to tag,
His only enemies the drug pushers,
The quick fix, and all the friendly strangers;
And on this barren wall, with a spray can,
And chalk, and a cloth, he vandalized o'er;
Fixing his inner eye, he rightly one day
Acquired a fuller prospect, humouring
The enmity of the cosmic temper,
And throwing down his brush, he then could gaze
On the more distant scene; how lonely 'tis
Thou seest, and he then gazed till it became
Less heartbreaking, and his heart could then endure
The cruelty of the cruel. Nor, in his time,
Would he forget these beings, to whose hunt,
Fraught with the fear of being caught and killed,
The world, and this city, appeared a scene
Of sheer oblivion: then he would cry
Remorsefully, to think that others felt
What he never wanted: and so, poor man!
On hallucinogenic drugs would feed,
Till his eye was visionary. And here
He died, this wall was all that he bequeathed.
If thou be one whose heart by the decay
Of lawlessness is not defiled or scathed,
Urchin! henceforth be warned; and know, that birth
And honours displayed to do injustice,
Is unlawful; that he, who then offends
O'er a peer shall find content, for justice
Shall be remorseless and deny offence
In all his faculties. The man who craves
Is deemed insatiable of appetite,
But let not pleasures encourage the wise
To scorn the sensations of this man,
For wisdom seeks acceptance. O wilt thou!
Instructed that the righteous persevere,
True faith and law abides in him alone
Who, in the whole proportion of this wall,
Can still revere, and still instruct himself,
In purity of heart.
A bloody dagger
And a crypt
In an abbey
Did not deter
And are horrified
By the crevices
Their bodies make.
Tea, Thinking of Empire
I coolly crack the egg of a fine Leghorn chicken. Raymond Carver
You wonder if milk or lemon
And no bother, please.
Pouring filtered water
That has boiled,
You remark that tap would do.
We have company - a couple
Who came back from Venice -
Perhaps they would like coffee?
Milk from your fine Jersey, they laugh.
One lump or two?
Here, you say, it's real silver,
And she stirs and so does he.
Your eyes film - weak.
Perhaps a cozy.
To hell with it, we say;
Yes, more coffee please.
We press our lips to the enamelled rim of the cups
And know this grease that floats
Over the coffee will one day stop our hearts.
A remark we all make,
Because we all like that poem,
Faraway from waves beating against chipped walls
And the narrow street with the cart and driver,
And it is deep in the afternoon, at tea,
And we have said to hell with the future,
And this does not diminish us in the least.
Of nineteenth century
O Czar! Have we reformed?
Are are not paladins
Of twenty first century
O Czar! Now, reform the paladins!
Are not paladins.
O Fyodor! Reform the Czar!
The Night That Is Slow Hard And Full Of Sadness
(And Dry Like The Smoke You Inhale)
You're all stiff, strung out,
And full of bad thoughts.
You smoke a cigarette,
But what you really want is a drink,
A nice cold beer would take the edge off,
Take the edge off the night you're having,
The night that is slow, hard, and full of sadness,
And dry like the smoke you inhale.
So you put on your overcoat and scarf,
And walk down the street to the bar.
A sound like cacophony
That comes over an orchestra
When they are tuning their instruments
Is the sound that greets you
When you walk in the bar.
Only instead of an orchestra,
It's the sight of pitchers and glasses,
A cue smacking against a rack of billiard balls,
And these other arraignments of chatter and cheer.
When you leave the bar, you've had a couple,
And the winter wind goes right through you
On your way home,
Where you'll sleep off the buzz.
You're shivering and thinking it's so early,
And you'll have to get up today.
So maybe it wasn't worth going out drinking,
To take the edge off the night you were having,
The night that was slow, hard, and full of sadness,
And dry like the smoke you inhaled;
When suddenly the day breaks and you croak.
On the primrose,
Bitter to the taste.
Till judgment comes,
Buy flowers and pucker up.
The Lark Rising Is A Noisome Thing
What ghost do I disturb
In the graveyard,
Do the dead cry out?
Lo, it is the lark!
Dawn has broken,
The sky is grey and dull,
And there is a mist of rain
Soaking the leaves.
The Lark rising is a noisome thing.
With the dead,
Not hear the shrill
Songs of morning.
Just as bad was
That owl last night,
That awful owl last night,
Tu whit! Tu who!
It was only him.
But I was asleep
When this noisome Lark rose,
And I mistook the sound for one I lost!
Old Man Walking
HUMAN TRANQUILITY AND DECAY, A SKETCH
The little hedge-row birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not.
The people in the street,
That haste along their way, regard him not.
He ambles on, and in his look, his tread,
His gait is one suggestion; every step,
His old slow-moving figure, all bespeak
A man who does not hurry forth, but moves
With leisure – He has finally resigned
To settled quiet, he is one by whom
All ambition seems revoked, one to whom
Long toiling has such retirement given
That toiling now does seem a thing of which
He has no care; he is by hard life led
To the fifth element, that some behold
With envy, what the old man rarely feels.
- I asked him where he was going and
The purpose of his journey; he replied,
'Sir! I am out on this fine day to cash
My pension cheque, nigh a thousand dollars,
At MoneyMart by New Broadview Hotel,
Then I'll have a pint or two at that pub.
Nobody sang or wrote cantatas.
He was always the same, they said, after that.
But how dreadful of them. He never left home.
Only read the poems his parents told him.
A matching foot stool was given to him as a gift.
They all went on living in that hut without a chimney.
One wonders if they know they are ill.
They know nothing of life.
A train runs through their land.
At night the walls creak, like brittle bones,
And the ashtray takes up most of their trash.
For everybody smokes in that house,
Insisting that some verse is bad for you only.
When he died it was only they who buried him.
His schoolmates couldn't remember him.
Not even what he looked like in the yearbook.
His father would go on quoting Burns,
His sister would rub his chest when he coughed.
His mother wept, and knit a small picture frame.
It was hardly what we've come to expect.
He was never where he might have belonged.
As though he never tried.
Easy enough to say it was a mistake,
And we do.