Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk

Material queue sieved for death by death
each waiting – these
things – for ease let’s call them people;
candles of corpses, yes, yes
don’t follow 
them
we follow them and

The sea’s gelatinous foam tells
them just how welcome (with surface
clinging to surface and the wind, by tension
dreary and wearisome this forsaken country.
was the scum of livid weed on the dark
greasy surfaces of the sullen waters.
Dead grasses and rotting reed loomed up in the mists
like ragged shadows

most welcome in this swelling tide
for there is no evil here –
there is only this mercurial life

You and me, and also
world-endings, chance gifts of death,
to bevel slowly a sound to a knife edge
where one of them (of us) stands alone
on the iron-fold brink
come to the very midst of the dead
marshes, and it was dark
grit from the serration drag

Alone
Alone on the sunk-sending
are dead things
dead faces in the water
A fell light
all hope painstakingly lost
human stories are practically
always about one thing,
aren’t they?

Then,
Then, a suddenness on the sea-wind
brings with it a breath, one breath
they heard
a long, wailing cry
high and thin and cruel

a deep unending breath
And elgar swings his legs
to the side of the sweat-ridden sheets
reaches, grasps the rough curtains
to open a sliver of blinding sunlight and a piercing
light to blind him
pierces, morning-sun made midday
by the darkness of the nest-depression –
Anything obscene is blessed in this world and has a reward –
I ask for no reward –
only to live, Jaeger

thus – scribbles a new moon, haltingly
to arc and draw the tide
one more inhumanity to blast us
No more dragging the mass
embarrased behind –

Nothing else has changed
but the sea now runs forward,
salted tears in its eyes.
rubbing their eyes,
like children wakened from an evil dream
to find the familiar night
still over the
world

And now the in breath ends
now – hear companion-cries
to send us
Home.

Wraiths! he wailed.
Agonised listening, myth-carving
as grandparents become myths
even as remembered.
Wraiths on wings!

westering far away beyond Tol-Brandir
and a vast fire-storm in the east
with a rush the wind came upon them
burning
hissing and snarling over the marshes
burning, burning
for a moment
the night became less dark
light enough for them to see
shapeless drifts of fog
for ease lets call them people
looking up they saw the clouds breaking and shredding
and then high in the south the moon glimmered
out

* * *

leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: the Machines. As the servants of the Machine are becoming a privileged class, the Machines are going to be enormously more powerful. What’s their next move? – Tolkien, The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien

Res Poetica

Can you put the lines in order?
Can you love, and kill someone with that love?
Can you watch TV with a wry smile and think of witchcraft?
Can you fit paper into a typewriter and roll it slowly through
By pressing on the keys?
By stepping on the ledge?
Can you ring a twelve bell peal with your tongue?
Can you swing in the sea til your arms tire
And you grow as old as you ever will be?
Can you infatuate yourself with every mark you make?
And roll your rs slightly in the reading?
Can you hail onto a feeling
and fail to inscribe it by the slightest mistake. Fail.
Can you fail?
Can you be idolised faintly, saint, by a dying culture
And rest all too happy in a leery obsolescence, a personal implosion?
Can you die? When it is time?
And think on death and dying?
Can you ignore those who think that they know what you are doing?
Can you tear paper, really tear it?
Are you afraid of yourself sometimes, really afraid?
Can you burn, can you burn?
Can you burn?
Can you become righteous?

Then, poet, you can be.
Can you stand on the sea?
Mystic, can you stand on the sea?
Can you stand on the sea?
Can you see?

The Bypass (Life is a Fire)

Worry fills the air, it has always filled the air
In the dark crouched under a cliff edge, clutching
Close our churchly comforts, curling
Fingers round our hope and hurting.
In bed caressed by muster horns of a great storm
Our worries go riding out over the top of the trenches
Gunned down by merciless death-machines, our dreams
Turned nightmares, teach us mercilessness to utopian thinking.

We live on the thin red line which hedges provisionally
The blurry gap of dystopia and the real.
We see burbling spitting demagogues rising from the ashes of war and despair,
And wait for nothingness to dry like mould in the bathroom
Peeling into oblivion and resting on a stone floor, forgotten by the universe,
Not marked by a single smile, but marked by a single frown or dry tearduct.

No.

Our challenge, our tribulations and trials
Are but one – to keep the bleeding faith in life, sharp teeth gritted
To stand high above the wave and teach it like lightning it lacks a purpose we fulfil
To dance in the fire like fire and lift our friends up, and the weak,
(who are strong but if they can flow
like mercury among the other metals)
Say, Drudgers, worriers of the world, rise up, you have nothing to lose but your fear
We have the stars to win.

And if one day, sun rising on a field of martian grass,
Disaster comes, we will deal with this disaster
Shuffling our cards and smiling at the draw:
We keep the fire and pass it on, whirling and cavorting from soul to soul
Lift the handful of dice and play your role,
Forging humanity from the sparks and defying the world to fall.
Get angry, get warm, and never bow.
Never bow at all.

The Lack

I sit here gazing into our garden
And my thoughts are thrown to the future
Where you are gone and lacking from the world
By the sound of voices and strings from the radio

I imagine your funeral, and the darkness of the church
The tears of the congregation of your life
And me sat here in this house again, after
gazing into the future without you.

And I catch a taste, of what must be
The lot of the losers, having lost their shining thread
drawn into old places, without the old guard
The haunting nostalgia, unrelenting

Unable to move, unable to remove
From life, the anchors of the past
And I understand for a second, hidden til now
What loneliness is.

And for a second it destroys me.
The lack is not someone missing
It is someone all too there, overdetermined.

And your loss too, already overthought
Will haunt me until it, too, passes
And we see my real reaction.

I do not await this moment with a smile.