Issue 30: Peter Manson
old dirty jazz-band i met you first as a symbol
for day’s ascent into deep-fried negative headspace
as móre píss falls through this into the night and meaning
takes angry flight to shut the door on the gravest ones
who hold it still as eyes in death’s ironic orbit
crowded as that would be now we’ve found the will to live
speak for your plurable self i’ve never felt damper
here in the scottish government resilience room
conservative surgery dervishes in the mood
to salute the backstop boys with an earnest hello
promote me to the saudi arabia of wind
faintly dismissive of the work but unsatisfied
by all but the most hyperbolical praise of it
papal retaining wall
amorous mcmonagle died of a gastritis
in curly hill strabane in 1871
in which parish he had an illegal daughter ann
and was probably a mistranscription of andrew
are those the shears of atropos or are they just shears
on the grave of the weaver george who died in august
swifter than a shuttle my days have passed and vanished
my crew and i were alive when we hit the water
how is it possible that i don’t know it’s over
this pearl onto which an oyster is secreting grit
i repeat the trope as two different kinds of farce
call off my cage fight in anhedonic carnoustie
and flee polynesia land of five million knees
i dream about air raids because not enough is wrong
with my life and its live-long passenger-side airbag
bearing the imprint of all my beloved faces
for limerence read liberace and vice versa
i cannot set the pipeline to the recording state
as hope is the featherless biped tonight on sky
burial note the key-patterning on the anus
the oil in the dolphin’s melon the moorhen hormones
which put us in hope we should soon have the manson wind
i fell ill with conjunctivitis and overdubs
while toasting ann widdecombe making p diddy come
as mourning becomes treacle ejecting the fine mess
anyone leaves when they don’t know they aren’t coming back
rubber hand illusion
i think of my large small body as what will damage
the largely valueless objects i leave behind me
as i hasten to create and consume a pizza
in time to watch your memorial event on zoom
each male in the room has my willow-pattern baldness
i try on one blue body after another and
soon you are mourned by a full pew of prosthetic mes
i’m sorry you’re dead and sorry i never told you
how i hated being implicated in your gaze
i take the mirtazapine and of course start writing
instead of going to bed like a normal poet
the poem hates itself for being like this and i
push back the cuticles on my teeth to say goodnight
The setting sun was darting its last rays
and the wind was rocking the pallid water-lilies;
the great water-lilies, between the reeds,
were shining sadly upon the calm waters.
Me, I was wandering alone, taking my wound for a walk
along the pond, in the middle of the willow plantation
where the vague mist was conjuring a great
milky phantom in despair
and weeping with the voice of the teals
who were calling and recalling, beating wings
in the middle of the willow plantation where I was wandering alone
taking my wound for a walk; and the thick shroud
of darkness came to drown the last
rays of the setting sun in these pallid waves
and the water-lilies, in the middle of the reeds,
great water-lilies upon the calm waters.
to Francis Poictevin
The long wood of fir trees twists up to the shore,
the narrow wood of fir trees, laurel and pine,
with the neighbouring town disguised as a village:
red chalets scattered in the greenery
and the white villas of the bathing stations.
The sombre wood descends from a plateau of heather,
comes and goes, forms a valley, then climbs green and black
and descends again as a fine thicket into which light
filters and gilds the obscure sleep of the cemetery
laid out in rows, cradled by a vague nonchalance.
On the left the heavy tower (it awaits a steeple)
rises of a church invisible from here;
the very distant landing stage; the tower is tall, and dry:
it is truly Anglicanism, authoritarian and starchy,
lacking the heart’s flight towards heaven, too.
The weather is just the way I like it,
neither fog nor sun! the sun guessed-at,
anticipated, dancing from the dying fog to the very
heights of the sky that turns and flees, rose-cream;
the atmosphere is of pearl and the sea of faded gold.
From the Protestant tower there departs the song of a bell,
then two and three and four, and then eight at once,
instinctive harmony going step by step,
enthusiasm, joy, invitation, sorrow, reproach,
with gold, bronze and fire in its voice;
immense and most sweet sound heard by the long woods!
Music is not more beautiful. It comes
slowly over the singing sea and shakes everything,
as a road resounds under a marching army
in the echo caught by an advance-guard patrol.
The ringing of the bells is dead. A red trail
of great sobs pulsates and is extinguished over the sea,
the cold lightning of a new year’s sunset
stains with blood, over there, the town that is crowned
by falling night, and vibrates in the still-bright west.
The evening deepens. It is glacial. The landing stage
shivers and the backwash moans in its singing
wood, then falls heavily like a waterfall
in a rhythm brutal as the sullen boredom
that hammered my guilty days of long ago:
solitude of the heart in the soul’s emptiness,
the battle of the sea and the winter winds,
Pride vanquished, regretful, grumbling and berating,
and this night where a villainous ambush is on the prowl,
a scent of catastrophe, fore-taste of Hell!...
Here are three tintinabulations like three notes on a flute,
three more! another three! the forgotten Angelus
remembers, and now it says: Peace to these struggles!
The Word is made flesh to uplift your falls from grace,
a virgin has conceived, the world is forgiven!
Thus God speaks through the medium of his chapel
half way up the hill, on the right, on the edge of the woods...
O Rome, o Mother! Cry, gesture that recalls us
ceaselessly to the only happiness and gives to the rebellious
and sad heart the practical counsel of the Cross.
— The night is like velvet. The abandoned landing stage
silences by degrees its sound under the ebbing water.
A road, straight enough, happily mapped out,
guides almost to my door my hurried retreat
in this absolute night under the long mute woods.
Peter Manson Peter Manson lives in Glasgow. His books and pamphlets include Poems of Frank Rupture (Sancho Panza Press), Between Cup and Lip (Miami UP, Ohio) and Factitious Airs (Zarf). A collaboration with Mendoza, Windsuckers & Onsetters: SONNOTS for Griffiths, was published by Materials/Materialen. His translations include Stéphane Mallarmé: The Poems in Verse (Miami UP), Théophile Gautier: Darkness (self-published on Lulu) and Gérard de Nerval: Sonnets (Runamok Press). petermanson.wordpress.com for more.
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