Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Imagined corners

This sequence appeared in Streetwise 54, Easter 2004, p. 20, and Streetwise 55, summer 2004, p. 9 & p. 14.


1. The world is fixed, and its fixity is a disaster

The chatterers (content to shake a tin,
donate blood, boycott Nestle, or pay taxes)
cannot conceive the work we’re buried in -
to turn the world once round upon its axis.

The chatterers presumably suppose
it turns already, of its own accord.
No one can warn them of the fate of those
trapped in the fixity they have ignored.

To turn the world – that is our party’s aim –
to turn it so it travels round the sun,
and never know the compromisers’ shame
of thinking that the turning has been done.

What if this does mean endless self-defeat?
The self-rewards are in their own way sweet.

2. The world is turning, and its turning is a disaster

The world is turning, and whoever saw
anything turn except against someone?
The world is turning against the law.

The proofs mount up. The turning floods the sea
across the boundaries it should not pass,
water where it ought not to be.

The days that in their pride and blindness will
inexorably pound twenty-four hours
leave no time for the sun’s standing still.

The vandalism. See the perfect fit,
Brazil-West Africa. Think what brute force
hammered the blow that made that split.

They tell us now that harnessing the action
of tides to generate electric power
slows the earth’s movement by a fraction.

Forget it. Fraction slower, fraction faster,
all the world offers us is yet more spin,
and no one’s there to challenge the disaster,
wheeling about the burnt black hole we’re in.

3. The world is fixed, and its fixity is a good thing

The baby moves less than the cry.
The cradle moves less than the baby.
The floor moves less than the cradle.
The world moves less than the floor.

People who say the world turns have projected
their own impermanence anxiety
on to the world. Their judgment is affected,
and I don’t trust the things they claim to see.

4. The world is turning, and its turning is a good thing

I gift-aid what I put in the collection,
shun cigarettes, cars, tropical hardwood,
reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, save.
I help the world keep turning. Aren’t I good?

I start each day by shelving journals, keep
records of targets not met as I should,
buy the Big issue, offer beggars vouchers.
I help the world keep turning. Aren’t I good?

I have rules for effective telephoning,
and interlocking protocols re food.
I change the heads of toothbrushes each quarter.
I help the world keep turning. Aren’t I good?

When I was twelve, I remained silent as
a punishment that should have come my way
went to another boy. I cannot turn
the world through space far enough from that day.

I’m OK you’re OK, a legal fiction,
lets us communicate more than we could
if we were rigorous. The world keeps turning.
Best isn’t best at the expense of good.

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