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Edition Hansjörg Mayer, futura 24, 1968. © the author and Edition Hansjörg Mayer
Noon Passes in this Twentieth Century
Noon passes in this twentieth century.
My pretty wife sleeps in a hospital bed.
My young wife's pretty eyes are dying.
I watch the helpless hands
I watch the helpless eyes
Of all the sad doctors.
You build great aeroplanes,
You build lightning missiles,
Force powerful energy
Into small bombs.
O men men men
Can you promise nothing but death
To we who settle this planet?
Why can't you kill
of my pretty wife
of my young wife?
Noon passes in this twentieth century.
What is the language using us for?
Said Malcolm Mooney moving away
Slowly over the white language.
Where am I going said Malcolm Mooney.
Certain experiences seem to not
Want to go into language maybe
Because of shame or the reader’s shame.
Let us observe Malcolm Mooney.
Let us get through the suburbs and drive
Out further just for fun to see
What he will do. Reader, it does
Not matter. He is only going to be
Myself and for you slightly you
Wanting to be another. He fell.
He falls (Tenses are everywhere.)
Deep down into a glass jail.
I am in a telephoneless, blue
Green crevasse and I can’t get out.
I pay well for my messages
Being hoisted up when you are about.
I suppose you open them under the light
Of midnight of The Dancing Men.
The point is would you ever want
To be here down on the freezing line
Reading the words that steam out
Against the ice? Anyhow draw
This folded message up between
The leaning prisms from me below.
Slowly over the white language
Comes Malcolm Mooney the saviour.
My left leg has no feeling.
It uses us all and in its dark
Of dark actions selections differ.
I am not making a fool of myself
For you. What I am making is
A place for language in my life
Which I want to be a real place
Seeing I have to put up with it
Anyhow. What are Communication’s
Mistakes in the magic medium doing
To us? It matters only in
So far as we want to be telling
Each other alive about each other
Alive. I want to be able to speak
And sing and make my soul occur
In front of the best and be respected
For that and even be understood
By the ones I like who are dead.
I would like to speak in front
Of myself with all my ears alive
And find out what it is I want.
What shape of words shall put its arms
Round us for more than pleasure?
I met a man in Cartsburn Street
Thrown out of The Cartsburn Vaults.
He shouted Willie and I crossed the street
And met him at the mouth of the close.
And this was double-breasted Sam,
A far relation on my mother’s
West-Irish side. Hello Sam how
Was it you knew me and says he
I heard your voice on The Sweet Brown Knowe.
O was I now I said and Sam said
Maggie would have liked to see you.
I’ll see you again I said and said
Sam I’ll not keep you and turned
Away over the short cut across
The midnight railway sidings.
From the prevailing weather or words
Each object hides in a metaphor.
This is the morning. I am out
On a kind of Vlaminck blue-rutted
Road. Willie Wagtail is about.
In from the West a fine smirr
Of rain drifts across the hedge.
I am only out here to walk or
Make this poem up. The hill is
A shining blue macadam top.
I lean my back to the telegraph pole
And the messages hum through my spine.
The beaded wires with their birds
Above me are contacting London.
The King of Whales dearly wanted
To have a word with me about how
I had behaved trying to crash
The Great Barrier. I could not speak
Or answer him easily in the white
Crystal of Art he set me in.
Who is the King of Whales? What is
He like? Well you may ask. He is
A kind of old uncle of mine
And yours mushing across the blind
Ice-cap between us in his furs
Shouting at his delinquent dogs.
What is his purpose? I try to find
Whatever it is is wanted by going
Out of my habits which is my name
To ask him how I can do better.
Tipped from a cake of ice I slid
Into the walrus-barking water
To find. I did not find another
At the end of my cold cry.
The sailing men had sailing terms
Which rigged their inner-sailing thoughts
In forecastle and at home among
The kitchen of their kind. Tarry
Old Jack is taken aback at a blow
On the lubber of his domestic sea.
Sam, I had thought of going again
But it’s no life. I signed on years
Ago and it wasn’t the ship for me.
O leave her Johnny leave her.
Sam, what readers do we have aboard?
Only the one, Sir. Who is that?
Only myself, Sir, from Cartsburn Street.
I don’t know. Have the words ever
Made anything of you, near a kind
Of truth you thought you were? Me
Neither. The words like albatrosses
Are only a doubtful touch towards
My going and you lifting your hand
To speak to illustrate an observed
Catastrophe. What is the weather
Using us for where we are ready
With all our language lines aboard?
The beginning wind slaps the canvas.
Are you ready? Are you ready?