Issue 5: Ian Pople

William Blake at the Cardomah Café

‘a blue sky spread over with wings and a wild moon’

Raise your cups, gentlemen, raise them

over the boiled eggs and eggy soldiers;

keep the story at bay, your connections

minimal. Think of the hands as a platform,

the branching of thumb and palm,

the body, its muscular repose,  ‘the corn

is turned to thistle and the apples to poison...’

A fine water colour with lilac stuff

upon a female form and a fine mirror

held by a strong fist, and the mouth

& eyes, ‘O, O, O!’ One eye sleeping,

the other eye piercing & manufacturing.

‘In the midst of this, twenty eight cities

each with his bow breathing’.

The scales of the coiling dragon,

the man beneath the dragon, howling ‘O!’

next to his skeleton, beside his chains,

crouching there beside the sea, where

the sun shines and gulls fall, buckled

above the water; waves rising caught

in their own viscosity, viscous sun

split in clouds where Captain Dog,

& his snakes fly high above and kiss

in a bundle, and you kneel at the edge

of the circle, spread your hands as the steps

rise up behind the tree and the sheep

flow in, flow in to graze where blocks

of stone are poised as in any other wall.

Tragic Group

The baby on your knee, you

with your bulbous face, helping

your child with its first steps, bent,

resting your fingers on the top of its head.

making an exhibition of yourself;

a study for a woman ironing;

the blank cut rectangle with hand drawn

doves in perspective that people sit

on or stand beside, and such spaces

between the entries that there could be

no confusion for ‘a line supports

an unbroken thought, a sentence

said in breath’. Walter Sickert 1912.

The folds run down a wall.

And lives grow old there in that

great cleft in the earth between

the falling walls of road, under

blue captured sky, over still water;

lives rising each Spring with Persephone

to Demeter, with poppies like

cowled women, trees bent in death.

Or a straight man made of tessellations;

the face, the chin resting on the sound box,

lips on the strings, so the hands might

swing in the breeze, the light imposing

in cathedral dark, and towards the edge

heavy shading, to convey the body

of the road, and what kind of the eye

that can be.

Ian Pople's An Occasional Lean-to is published by Arc