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Jacket 20 — December 2002   |   # 20  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |

John Kinsella:

Four poems

Living Conditions. Cambridge

This flat is said to mirror
the last one we occupied. It’s not 4,
the previous or earlier flat was 7,
the poisoned flat, the one
with the fuming glacier
of a wasp’s nest in the wall cavity,
a vast horizon fermenting in the ceiling.
It was a sad case but not the case now.
I urge towards Wittgenstein’s grave,
just behind here and there.
No other grave does this to me.
The walk to the library
is variable: pipeworks, clay-sludge
back-hoed, chewed out
beneath the road surface.
The Thatcher papers
will be housed without humility,
alongside those of Churchill.
Donors have been generous.
The alleyways are bordered
by annuals — lush, green.
Overcast, morning strains towards humidity.
Flat 4 is not a repetition or reproduction
or even mimicry of flat 7.
Convolution of bird noise,
same floor plan, same light frames,
but the depth isn’t there.
Out by about two feet or sixty centimeters
if we’re thinking euros. Looking
into the rooms, we see our actions
from before, when we weren’t
so happy. We are okay here —
a baby is forming, space
textually uncertain
but realigned. The damp
can’t get in because the world
is sealed off, in its own liquid.
People don’t realise that
in the middle of the old town
there’s a reactor: it carries
its own silent poison,
and the grace of it is clear.

Cambridge Morning Meditation

What we know is nothing of these instruments
set to porcine light, or tacked against domes
and covertones, scaline frosts that temper

nitre and satellites and systems that guard
their honours, making them ours. In here, this lowland,
a highlight aerials against the plane, as if density

of our intras and conversations suggests
nodes and trip wires; I take the line that fencing
traces feuds and fear: a forest edge condensed

to hedgerow, a lining up of the dead.
How porous is the stone that shelters them,
prayers drained to drinking water, wells

the machinery of hearing, hammer-call —
that bird we can’t identify? Rote and rived,
penitent as listening, mowers

and their drivers insist the air is colour:
as spiked greens sport flags and boundaries,
and councils levitate on postcodes.

The leaden light

The leaden light
is almost blue
but taint won’t cross
meniscus of belief,
the apples flung
from that tree, high winds
in building projects,
and we’re back to illustrations
crackling on datelines;
prophetic or narrative
the chapel outlined
for a funeral, radio telescope
primed for arrivals: I will take up that offer
to visit with the astronomer,
scratch and pass through the place
that burns up debris.

moral poetry in cambridge...

tight cloisters in the runaround,
so close, steam comes down in sheets
and is cold settling in mornings,
the quiet raged out and cameras
scanning infra-red taxonomy:
a cutting from milton’s mulberry tree,
location uncertain. as if to be here
the gridwork must template
retrospectively: in the gallery
warhol hangs easily,
hanging the same elsewhere,
like byzantine iconography,
like claims for moral poetry
while Huntingdon Life Sciences
demystifies the colon:
global accrescence: seen and read
by the interested, but seen and read
nonetheless. sparks fly
as fire rolls through the hills
down south — another country —
the language lost —
tree stands and rare species —
a particular nomenclature
that industrialists of ethics
might not care for.
they read the manifestos
of repressed peoples,
they paddle between
island states of learning —
repositories of quidity
and translation, as hackt & hewd,
as if such vse they hated.
but hey, I’m you’re here too,
an outed protagonist — lover (inter alia),
of Caro, all block-headed
and squeezed amidst the ‘ugly’
architecture that flows
with light, where social activity
is scant and prayers leased.

Check out this author’s work: Bookstores in Britain, and in the United States

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