Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A Prayer

Living near the river we were often the first 
to hear any news of Klara. When we got up
in the morning it had snowed and I shaved 
my head and applied bright red lipstick to 
my mouth. Living near the river we were 
often troubled by rats, and I said a prayer 
and solemnly smashed the bathroom mirror 
with my fists, striking one, two, three,
four, five until I wandered out into the snow trailing 
blood. Living near the industrial estate we were often 
troubled by men in their cars cruising for sex. I kept 
on walking and it seemed as I continued the blood 
became darker and the men in their cars kept circling 
and one said you fucking weirdo out of his car 
window but another had the radio on and was listening 
to the popular song that was in everyone’s dreams 
those days. So I joined in the chorus and lay down in a ditch and howled. 
Living near a butcher’s shop we’d hear them begin work
before it was light, hacking at carcasses so I turned 
on the radio and what should be playing but the popular 
song in everyone’s dreams then one of the rats scuttled up 
to Klara and began to show her it could dance. Immediately 
we joined a circus. Living near the railway line we became 
familiar with the sounds of different trains, with the lonely 
sounds trains made in the small hours. Then he raised the baseball 
bat and hit Steve as hard as he could. It was an intensely cold night, 
the stars blazing pinpricks, the half moon like it had been sawn 
that way by a magician. Steve tried to get to his feet 
so he hit Steve again, this time across the back, all the while cruising 
for sex and slowly my hands stopped bleeding 
and I left no further trail and we were lost in the forest. 
Klara said not to worry I speak the language 
of birds but as she said this a giant soldier marched past 
carrying a sack full of frantically wing beating, struggling
birds. Steve just lay there and when they’d finished 
hacking at carcasses one or two would go down the local cafe 
for breakfast and Sally walked barefoot 
down to the general shop for some milk and bread 
and seemed to be gone hours but that was in the summer 
and saying you fucking weirdo out of his car window 
by now another popular song was in everyone’s 
dreams and we shielded our eyes against the searchlights 
and the circus rat ran into a ditch and still I kept on 
walking, wandering, and I came to the river 
where the moon had drowned itself. So I sat on an oil drum 
or something of that sort and began to sing 
next era’s song. And Sally came back from the shop 
and stripped naked and stood at the window 
and though it was no longer summer, 
though it was no longer autumn with its golds and its russets 
and its dying plenitude, and though spring was something 
we could only imagine as an uncanny end to all our loves 
and not something out of a poem because 

“any noticeable reiteration of the same grammatical concept becomes an effective poetic device. Any unbiased, attentive, exhaustive, total description of the selection, distribution and interrelation of diverse morphological classes and syntactic constructions in a given form surprises the examiner himself by unexpected, striking symmetries and anti-symmetries, balanced structures, efficient accumulation of equivalent forms and salient contrasts,… by rigid restrictions in the repertory of morphological and syntactic constituents used in the poem, eliminations which… permit us to follow the masterly interplay of the actualised constituents” 

– though it was winter, and the sky 
was mottling over again with snow she stood there naked 
so long I thought I’d become a statue. Living near the river 
we were often the first to hear any news of Klara, 
but we moved away long ago and could be dead for all we know.

“Let us insist on the strikingness of these devices.” Yes

The text in quotes is by Roman Jakobson. 

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