John Gimblett - Selected Poems 1992-2000
There are dustings of layers of broken
leaves extant; coiled, weedy red
bed springs panting at the surface
of this chameleon turf.
In a dim, dry summer, we tread
shadows upon shadows, double darkness
seemingly coupled; horizontal slivers
of light like a sari of silver fishes.
The meal of seasoned bones I dribbled
from a hard hand has melted to the
roots. Stare as I could, there were no
ribs in the powder; nothing to give life
from. But the beech, sallow in the
surf of a low sea of leaves, peeps
through the shoal, pins brittle medallions
of veined copper to the gree heart
of this new garden. Before the skin of
the field was spread, I also took
in the same hand a flagon of
brandlings: threw them in a broad
arc of some pretty wave, as if life could
in itself fertilize through life. The raked
soil moved, wriggling as if already verdant.
The cap of grass plunged them into darkness.
The man on the
on the phlegm
slab of sidewalk,
one of the
You have to
stare: it's a
there's a surplus
His mouth is
open, his eyes
and he's hungry.
Drop him two
coins and he'll weep.
Set him down
three and he'll
Stare and star-
mis-shapen limbs will
One cheek is
pressed to a kerb,
pulling up footsteps.
His knees bend
Sucking the last
square of chocolate,
passing him by
he dribbles, crying.
Perhaps it ends here, in
Rajkot, with a gentle, loose
step into tree tops. Facing
the temple, perhaps it
ends with the loving tug
of Tirthankars, pulling me
to earth. The warm air,
whistling with the green
shrieks of parakeets, bloody
with a dusk sun, would
support me if I fell.
If I fall, will I fly?
The white temple, and the
black cloud, hold me still.
Perhaps it ends
with the spiralling twist
of falling into the canopy
of tamarinds, perhaps it ends
with the leaves like green
feathers holding me,
folding me up into earth?
A buffalo and egret stood by the rail:
one ink black and one milk-pale.
Buffalo walked with his face in the earth,
egret squawked with an attitude of mirth.
Hidden in a field by a gleaming water pipe
stood a bathing woman, half-peeled, sun-ripe.
The buffalo and egret with a glance sauntered past,
buffalo black and listless, egret lively; last.
The train passed palms, small villages, a farm;
a small green pond when the buffalo swam.
The egret flew above them all, light and dark,
and the sun shone down like a matchless spark.
"Stop this day and night with
me and you shall possess the
origin of all poems." -- Walt Whitman.
Wind rallied likethe massed last
gasps of the thrown, from the Villa Jovis.
Rattling the terracotta bricks of the vats,
crumbling the very limestone of the
island with its cyclonic footfalls, we
almost hear the falling throats of the
ditched and the deposed. Tiberius stood
here, staring out at clouds, at the
black hump of Ischia back towards
Naples. Stood in the shadow of
Vesuvius, a generation away from
explosion. Bay leaves rustled near
the path, their roots pinning Jovis
to Capri, lest the whole place should
rise like banshees, propelled or
drawn irresistibly into the sea.
The man sat, as if thinking, yet
he was stone, through and through.
But a core, a pith of bone burned,
like lava in an attempt at escape.
His face, contorted, a mis-shapen
spring fought to right the originality;
the flesh of suitability to his species.
And I thought of lizards: plastered
with a second skin of stone, burned
as if sprung, fire from the street.
Running, slow against the flow, 60
to be undiscovered, the seed in
a kernal of rock, feet splayed, spreading
the mud. The ash dropping, grey specks
dotting the reptile, who'd become
subject to volcanic pointillism. I saw
a body, lying, like it was caught in
sleep by a sublime dream. The
man stretched his limbs, took on the
wherewithal of an astute, scared gecko.