Issue 5: George Szirtes

Postcard 2

After Caroline Wright

1. Joke Shop*

Do you remember the advertisements for Whoopee Cushions? Do you remember

Jumping Beans? Do you remember Fart Powder, Itching Powder, Sneezing Powder? Do you remember powder? Do you remember the Cockroach? Blue Mouth? Exhaust Whistle? Disappearing Ink and Foaming Blood? Do you remember blood? Do you remember Fun Snaps, Detonators and Floating Eyeballs? Do you remember jokes? Do you remember the Rattle Snake Eggs? The Snake in a Mustard Tin? The Money Snatcher? The Squirt Ring? Do you remember Love Potion? Mystic Smoke and The Bloody Arm? Have you had an armful? Do you remember the ambiguities as well as the explosions? Do you remember smells? Do you still have your eyes? Do you remember being exhausted? Do you remember your mouth?


2.  Reverse side*

My darling when I finger your tiny bones and consider our fragility I cannot help wondering about our future. hi sir,  i want to learn about some little bombs for only to make man scared    sound and little explosion and also have a timer.   Sir i have been looking for these information for a long time, at the end i found your web page luckily     it is important for this bomb to be homemade     if there is a misunderstood part i'm sorry   regards. And I watch your eyes flicker, as mine too flicker. Do you put want to put a hole in a concrete wall? Cutting through steel wall? Anti-personnel? Bring down an airplane in flight? Put a hole in an airport runway? Bring down a bridge or building (what type of bridge or building)? Taking out a car/truck/Hum-Vee/tank? Do you just want to disable the car or do you want to ensure a kill of the occupants? Where are you located and what types of materials are available there? Darling, I gently lick the stamp. I am delicate in my writing. My heart goes boom boom boom.


Postcard 3

After Caroline Wright

1.The Rower

At which point was the boat quite lost to sight?

At which point did the rower realise?

At which point did the single oar lose meaning?

At which point did the land entirely vanish?

At which point did the waves become a wall?

At which point did the mind become the sea?

Because if mind and wave and wall and sea

are of one substance, and the loss of sight

result in loss of meaning - so that wall

is where the mind is - should we realise

our utter loss, we might entirely vanish

into a sea that never had a meaning.

But then, being alone with lack of meaning,

blank sea and brittle oar, the place we vanish

into is somewhere we can’t name as sea,

and where we drown is just an oversight.

There’s nothing there to know or realise.

It’s all the sound of wave hitting sea-wall.

I wish we could hear the voice that is the wall –

a single voice that concentrates all meaning

into oar or wave. How good to realise

that sense of being alone on a blank sea

in voice or name, to find ourselves in sight

of any land, even one due to vanish.

You’ll find this card tomorrow. The days vanish

in the usual haze however we stonewall.

I like it here. The sea is quite a sight,

darker than usual, flat, yet still a sea.

The weeks are almost endless. I’ve been meaning

to write you this. A card, I realise

is just a gesture. One can’t realise

all one’s ambitions. I seem to vanish

in myself. I’ve long been out at sea

without a landmark, no familiar wall

to climb or peep over. What kind of meaning

could I ascribe to it? Where is the sight

equal to this? What wall holds meaning

the way this does? I realise the sea

is more than sight, and some things always vanish.

2. Reverse side

Received the parcel

Safely, many thanks, Bella (1).

Monday. Leamington (2).

Received the  parcel

Safely. Now it is Wednesday

And the sea is calm.

Received the parcel

Safely in the second year

Of the war (3). Thursday.

Received the parcel

Safely, with many thanks. Sea

Calm. Nellie, with love.

Received the  parcel

Safely. It is still Friday

And the sea is calm.

(1) Name illegible. Bella or Ella or Nellie.(2) Postcard sent from 30, Grove Street. Leamington Spa to Mrs W. Yerrill, 30, Mount Road, Haverhill in Suffolk. Neither place is by the sea. The sea is inner.(3) Postcard dated 16th September, 1915, a Tuesday.

George Szirtes won the T. S. Eliot Prize for Reel (Bloodaxe, 2004). His New and Collected Poems (2008) and The Burning of the Books and Other Poems (2009) were also published by Bloodaxe, the latter also short-listed for the Eliot Prize. John Sears's study of his work, Reading George Szirtes appeared in 2008 and his own book of three Bloodaxe / Newcastle University lectures, Fortinbras at the Fishhouses in March 2010. The poems included here come from Respond / Reply an ongoing collaboration with three visual artists: Phyllida Barlow, Caroline Wright and Helen Rousseau. He translates poetry and fiction from the Hungarian and teaches at the University of East Anglia.