Issue 13: Astrid Alben
On Poet’s return, very impressive, Lazarus gave a standing
ovation started to reread or else well can’t think of what
are the beautiful they replace a pelican leírion wet kiss
become someone I have never been in the Hebraic version
then lose him to a half-life of facts on a mountain where
nothing happens but loneliness too daily to relate.
Poet stared. Lazarus came forth and clapclapclapclapped.
Others said thinking.
In Conversation with David Hockney
What brings you here Poet bellows across mountains
I’m here muah muah kissing muah the air couldn’t leave
is loveness with or without light bellows Poet made for going
the other way watch and now on the right another birch stripped
purple of May. There now stands on its own.
You can place your thumbs forefingers about its neck
touching rarely forms the perfect crowd amorphous
unchanging history our fata morganas written everywhere.
What if you bring up Burma and kho pho phett and I never heard
of his poems before or if I told you his political plight, grievous
and shameful Poet knows doesn't matter as much as it should to me at
all but made me think instead of Mengele - he drowned you know,
with everything almost still in perfect condition: the library
that included works by Goethe, Goebbels, Erich Fromm and
Siegfried Lenz, medical literature about soft tissue rheumatism,
an Olympic souvenir placard, a package of Olla condoms.
Cassette Tape with Beckett Voices
Voices blink like trilobites from underneath Atlas—
curious Poet listens bolshie-eared to correspondence from
the deep. We in-build what is going to bite us even if voices
are monkey business scrabbling across Indian Ocean cappuccino
rings resemble contour lines (idiocy! ticket inspector!) my body
likey the spool back to Paris girlfriends prostitutes the debris
of thinker out louder crackles where there is laughter
rhythm and this is what makes the seabed.
Man on Train with Spirit Level in Yellow Canvas Bag
In snooping daylight
And a stream of incoming texts
Just before Baker Street but still above ground
Man on Train with Spirit Level in Yellow Canvas Bag.
Another ventures: you putting up shelves?
He: uh– hum –eh-ghum
— A polite guffaw somewhere between snorts and aborts —
Another: (eyebrows prompting the monologue of his nose,
Eyebrows like Groucho Marx who spun his chorus girl
Across the parquet dancing floor, his aristo tails flapping
Like nothing will ever be forgotten.
Who with every heelturn would collapse away
Like Yuri Gagarin in 1961 who danced on drunken flowers
– Crazy, crazy – but he went.
Eyebrows like Frida Kahlo’s in Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace
and Hummingbird, dense with the pigmented delight of sorrow
Pouring her love into a humming waterfall
of red and yellow and pink
Or two zanders filching sunlight in the river Ouse
— Coming together breaking apart —
Undetected in the wafting algae.
Like the hay-scented breeze wafting across a field in Hawkhurst
Where the doll with incurable curls that I lost
Clutches her disintegrated fists in the clay
Like she won’t ever be forgotten –
They all danced into the up ahead
The perfume of their demise surrounding them.
So beautiful! Aboard! Aboard!
The train grinds to a halt at the platform. Too late!
He and Another are mislaid in the crowd.
Bless Groucho! Bless Frida and bless the river Ouse!
Bless Gagarin and bless all parquet dancing floors!
Bless the spirit level! Bless all Hummingbirds!
Bless the hay-scented air wafting across a field in Hawkhurst!
Bless what happiness is!
Bless the snooping daylight and bless all drunken flowers!
Yes, and bless all drunken flowers!)
Astrid Alben’s most recent collection Ai! Ai! Pianissimo, was published by Arc Publications in 2011. Alben has been described as “a new and original voice in English poetry, serious and uncompromising” (TLS). Her poems, essays, translations and reviews are widely published in journals, magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and her poetry is translated into several languages, including Romanian, Dutch, Slovenian and Chinese. Alben is the editor of three art/science anthologies: Findings on Ice (2007), Findings on Elasticity (2010) and Findings on Light (2015), published by Lars Müller Publications. Her next collection, Plainspeak, an alter-ego-thinker-out-louder-book, will be ready in about a year. Alben is a Royal Society of Arts Fellow and Wellcome Trust Fellow. To hear her poems visit www.astridalben.com. To find out more about her work in art and science visit www.parsfoundation.com.