Issue 4: Todd Swift
‘Somewhere the mimetic is having more fun than I am’
Somewhere the mimetic is having more fun than I am
Doing what is done when description windowdresses
The world in frontage, clear as snowdrops in a cup.
The work of enjoyment is outnumbered by confusion,
For fishing, & other displayed tackle. Brought down,
The claim to see & say; this whirlpool is no hypnotist’s plot.
The vision on offer today is grim: brooding germs spoil
In July, but ladder in August to overbreed the solar lung;
Few will survive this transit, so flares beckon the ailing
To camps where sleeves are rolled up, injections slipped.
Now a medical universe is sharp as new-dabbed barns,
Clean as Christmas in white slapdashery. Hung up
For breath, unhooked becomes a clam. No speech acts
As well as a loop for a throat. Tie one on & plunge.
Taking this as morbid helps, as daily assists, as done.
Crisp despair & stylised anxiety won’t quite quip a virus
Ink, or is a body celebrating when it grins out, festooned?
Race to the poles, where answers are stacked in Quonsets,
Then radar back info-rubber to the chaps at HQ on wires.
Death was harpooned, refuses to blubber further. Sung
Like that, these undefeated lyrics express strange happiness.
I think Of Delmore Schwartz, Beside My Sleeping Love
Romantic, an American lyric
Pitched to Plato, past to a sleeping blonde
From her hand like a hypodermic) –
As birdsong types out a serious letter
Calling out for madness and History
Union in the grave, that breaks
When love’s excess proves rhetoric
Beauty read Freud and smoked cigarettes,
Was smart, milk came in bottles, those vessels
Rattled, and genocide was still
The complex mode puts leaves on trees
And summer is a good idea of the mind
For we imagine knowledge to be good
And sure, even though, as Eden’s children
Mostly what we knew was unconfined –
Our rocking beds sailed on moonlight
The frost of sky our beaconing horizon.
In the unmoored mind’s Mariano,
Unrafted, swollen with brain-rot,
Wracks of passion – unable to know friend
The sublime may call for clarity
But is often served by vague men who doom
Unroofed by calm lingo and straighter goals.
Only in subtle bays or surface shoals
Do tides or pools destroy; not in desert rooms;
So were your self-made cuts to brow
Of mad projections (of madder maps) both slight
To render sinking thoughts and feelings
Mirroring out emotion, casting a beam to blind –
Blindness not bestowing wisdom but poison
Conveys words for pain as well; mascara on skin
That goes to the roots subcutaneous and beyond.
Before sane spring arrives, to know disorder
Thriving like a bulb bled in shaken ground,
Still the ground the only self that one can own,
In the middle of a bright seeming normal sun.
A renaissance as rain bows down the cherry tree,
To click at keys that lead them on through frail doors
To places of walls, pale carpets and burns on floors
That speak of beige traffic, and fisticuffs in closets.
Be laurelled, in order to sink, like Satan; you did;
I see this unmastery fight itself off now in me.
The Queen of Night allows access to her pavilion.
O, high sensation and archaic claims of style!
The tree that latticed our bodies with light and shade
Spoken into greenery by this thrill of penmanship –
Spendthrift and untidy on a foolscap before sleep.
And yet by force of habit are we both read
On one page forever unioned by a line’s crown.
Such a coronation of an abstract love is
Hammersmith, May 2009
Todd Swift was born in Montreal in 1966 and has lived in Europe since 1998. He is a graduate of the UEA MA in Creative Writing. Since 2004 he has been Oxfam GB poet-in-residence. He is a tutor with the Poetry School and a university lecturer. His poems have appeared in New American Writing, Jacket and Poetry Review. He has published six collections of poetry, most recently, Mainstream Love Hotel, tall-lighthouse press, 2009. He is a poetry editor for Nthposition and blogs as Eyewear.