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The Poet in an Epoch of Affluence 


The Audited Heart
Words went up to the front and fought and were wounded
And died and returned home and were paralyzed -
The slippery survivors parsed together so that we may listen
To their swords
The clatter
That's where the teeth are, not in the mouth
But in the hand, stretching out for the heart behind it
This cage of holy acceptance
The race to the bottom of that red place
Snake, that thing, that turns there
Settled under the chest because there is only war here
Violence on the coast
In the corridors
The country designing itself, vacant and threatening
Without need to measure the space between this word
And my last
The present grows smaller and smaller
As the future grows larger and larger
The Australian's book was written
Following an oath taken never to write
Again. Everything
Had too much importance,
Too little
I do not want to rest my fate on the ordinary,
On security - I want to talk to everyone!
But God is not a parent
Not a mother or a father
And you must also look beyond my voice
To hear my voice authentically
Even I, who did it, must search for evidence of what I did -
So tired that there is no occasion I will rise to
Nothing intimate in my movements towards the world
I cannot rest on my own hand
Beauty, even of clouds, alerts me
To the partiality of the flower
I have held the smallest man's hands
The strength still in them, of a giant
Raising my laugh to the level of a physical characteristic
Say: Don't be restless with others' love
For these organs, these unreliable means of detection
Are the very ones which find the major violations
Like that three-eyed fish running
In the river behind our homes
Six unknown named agents appeared to me with paper plots
Of the sea-floor
Asking, What did you see from the satellite?
That we have reduced truth down to steam?
On your side of the ocean a bargain was struck
To keep to the clock which kept old hours, to laugh
at beggars, to collect antiques and to spit
at stones
Startling and for the record I could only reply candidly
That if there is in fact no excuse
For not doing not what you can do
But rather the exact right thing
Then my life until now has been useless
And no amount of surveillance is likely to produce
The clean cut of a line or even the expected
Disobedience of the unavoidable self -
And just like a dream the spies floated away, telling nothing. . .

The Story Of Someone Who Knows Nothing
Betraying no journeys, what might be is visible from here
The colours as new as the ones you see all the time
I am horrified by the fact that I am not in a war
(and there are wars)
Do I want an epoch to happen
So that my poetry may have some place to suffer
And become golden?


Chapter One As It Might Have Been Written
Cancer doesn't try to be relevant, nor does trashy television. . . 
And in truth, it's only people who can attempt such things
Was it today or another day I saw the man with no nose
With a cathedral of unwanted flesh growing on top of his head
The sun's hatred of that faraway object moving to and from
Its old caress
Finding the one cell in his body to love, transform
And multiply in its own image
He was relevant
The red wet mass where his nose had been
The purple black clump of cancer sliding down the back of his
And because of that a different choice of death?
I am the worst of things, a poet
Who has grown a shell, who lives among riches, drinks
Wine and casts a net widely. . . 
Do snails sleep?
There is a bad trend in politics to speak badly
And in platitudes
It is possible to say:
Three-quarters of the world's people
Without making a fool of yourself
We have managed to compare a leg with a bowl of noodles
With an ocean liner with a tree
With a plastic figure of a famous person
With a porcelain figurine of the same thing
And still not panic
I have to resist the urge to panic
To rush. . .
Being Watched By An Audience
There was the period when my throat stopped
Just a risp - a grating sound
Drugs were selling faster than souls
And all the good women I knew were drinking
Or not eating
No-one asked me a favour or a question
No-one asked me why or the way
I wondered if people were shy or unconscious
And none of my messages was returned or replied to
It was at this time that I saw her hands, suddenly,
And realized that if I was a child,
I would have thought them old - now, they just seemed
Like the frame, streaky like wood and capable
Of holding such a scene
I am being fascinated by this suffering
Mostly By His Maturity
It was mostly by his maturity that I was impressed
The liquid floors he poured and still managed to stand on
He said: Once I was a young man; Now I am an old man
Behind a reverberating microphone and pretends
To be excited by nothing
I had known him only as a teacher until a certain
Social Occasion; had never seen him warm like that, the plural
Smiles, his ready-to-wait-for-my-words eyes, the bed. . . 
And now many years later the promise:
A spider the size of a falling moon swinging upside-
Down on the web's taut thread, legs curled up like a chandelier
Swaying caught in the streetlamp's light
It is the ugliness of the poet to hang words there
Making the spider too
For the sentence it has written
Itself which is simply
spider hanging
I do not want to give up my cigarette and the balcony
But this night is not for poetry
But SEX!
We have agreed to do it every fourth night until desire
Takes back what it owns - our will
Until every night that lies between the fourth and the last
Begs to become naked and answer -
The Poem Of Sappho's Coffin
Don't speak to me of what's given
What about what is withheld
And what is taken away?
My unacted upon desires rest without touching my skin
Like the body of that woman among us - the unembodied one
Of pure meaning and vengeance
Likely she would write The Poem of Sappho's Coffin
If she had enough flesh to drag up to the end of a pen
I don't know!
More likely she would stack books all the way from the front
Door to the back and from wall
To wall
To prevent us from entering her house
And this despite her hospitality
And despite her hospitality
My hand is always to her face -
I look through her garbage -
I feed her children when she doesn't come home at night -
And I don't mind any of this
Because there is simply too much of everything here
And she sits among us with nothing
(though in the evening she is so full of me
that she looks like a giant golden fruit)
To be with us she has vacated death and asked all
To look in the same way upon her sacred face
And imagined body
Fat Rabbits Of Love
Those whose names we would like to remember
Describe the discomfort that is so compelled
By humility
The wide-eyed rabbits of love hop after them into destinations
Unchanged and the defectors from love
Read poetry on the trains
Have you ever seen them?
On proofreading the world


In Jacket # 11 you can read John Bennett's review of two of M.T.C.Cronin's books and his essay "Legal Poetry Practice: Thoughts on Writing Outside the Law - the Poetry of M.T.C. Cronin".


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