The doctor says my back ache (DESIGN FLAW) is a sign of tension and
worry but common sense says it's a sign of a bad back. I suggest
a public enquiry: that
should get to the bottom of things. Sun
beating down on my feathers is overpowering (DESIGN FLAW) - one wishes
that wings would allow one to fly, and not prove to be such a burden.
How come the sky, for all its airy allure, is so far away? If one could
a state in which to survive would it be filled with such storm and stress?
And should one begin a sentence with a word forbidden by grammarians
and pedants (DESIGN FLAW)? God knows. I'm stretched stretched out on
my massage girl's thing upon which her clients stretch out and I can
feel the tension ebbing away and increasing all at the same time, which is
called a paradox, and sometimes a "DESIGN FLAW", my mind being
floored (DESIGN FLAWED) as when a boxer (the pugilist, not the dog) hits
the deck (not a deck as upon a ship, one means the canvas, not the canvas
upon which an artist paints, one means the floor of the ring, not
the ring one places upon the finger of one's betrothed (DESIGN FLAW),
but the ring within which the pugilists pugil) (where was I? Oh yes...)
my mind being floored - an occurrence so common one is tempted
to suggest there's a design flaw somewhere in there: one wishes wings
would open the door to flight, and not prove so burdensome, bringing
one down so often to the level of the ordinary (DESIGN FLAW) mortal.
THE BOOK OF LIES
The man often says the wrong thing.
The idiot often says the wrong thing.
Do the algebra. Meanwhile,
as if believing the albatross is not a bird of prey,
the pastured horse gazes upward
toward reflections of sea. Sunset's beautiful
and the smoke from cigars intoxicating. Having
cast my vote I open the book at random,
and on page 2307 (4 being my lucky number)
are these words, and only these words:
"You are fortunate to be here."
I recommend The Book of Lies
if you can find it cheap on Amazon, or
steal it from the school library.
Here are some more quotations:
"The invisible maiden is not trustworthy."
"The sixpence ceased to be legal tender on 1st July
"The mandarin is a musical instrument of the lute family."
"The albatross is a distant relation of the pigeon."
"The transparent maiden blocks the view."
"This is a free country."
"The sonnet is a young swan."
"The florin was legal tender until 30th June 1980."
"The temperatures in temperate countries are generally
relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold."
"The opaque maiden's purpose is crystal clear."
"More quotations can be found later in this poem."
I close the book as if there's something better to do
and mount the bicycle I long to become. "Bay of Pigs (Detail)"
is on the iPod and sunset's beautiful
tonight and the next few evenings.
Aircraft disappear behind pink clouds; later
I will cut my finger while preparing supper.
My disinterestedness in social issues
is impossible to conceal but
the sky has my full support most of the time.
I gaze upward toward it and then down
upon and into pavilions of dance. Horses
possess a refreshing wisdom but not many people know
or care. When I report for work tomorrow
it will be as if a dream is ending
and beginning over again.
Over again. Oh, I do so love to paint ceilings
brimming with gamboling horses
gamboling across a field filled with fellows
wearing fedoras and other items
beginning with the letter F:
fish-net stockings, full-bodied frocks,
fine-mesh vests, and four dollar collars.
By the by,
I'm hungry - but from here to the refrigerator
is a long way. Once upon a time
(before records began) (people sang to one another)
I remember setting out for the polling booths
and not arriving. It was encouraging,
but The Book of Lies puts everything
into its proper perspective:
"The albatross was once the cage bird of choice in fashionable society,
but as the repetitious nature of politics came increasingly to bore the pants
off people the red-cheeked canary began to gain favour. Its being much
cheaper to feed was a point in its favour in times of economic downturn. Thus
is the dictum that necessity is the mother of intention proven."
A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS LIFE
You asked me if I was happy
but instead of answering your question
I spent the next I don't know how long
analyzing it and your blonde hair
turned to a wispy silver-grey and the day
turned into one long period of thought
like when you suggested we could either
turn into stone and wait to be gazed upon
by people with nothing better to do
or take to the air like the Wright Brothers
who in 1903 took to the air in the manner
of men doing something altogether new
and I considered the choices for
I don't know how long until the birds
hiding in the trees shed their feathers
and fell to the ground stunned
to find themselves imagined doing
anything as bizarre as falling to anything.
It was the afternoon of the next day
and on receipt of my letter ("It is with regret
I must inform you that I can no longer.....")
you uttered the words "I am crushed" and
I too was crushed and smashed and splattered
against the walls of my private space
its stars scattered like tiny jewels hurled
against the wall of a boudoir in a novel
by Constance Small, queen of timeless romance
as if to prove it's ridiculous to be sentimental
when everyone you love is on a train away
never to come back in a month of Sundays.
I didn't want to move house: house was
firmly rooted in the past and the past is
as valuable as the future might turn out to be
if it ever arrives. And more room is always
only a bigger vacancy in which to prove oneself
unfit for purpose, here comes a simile which
is like being the law of gravity crashing to earth
and the collapse of a very small civilization
nobody knew was there until someone
stumbled upon what had been left behind:
a load of unread books, some unfinished poems,
and what appeared to be an ancient manuscript
setting out a schedule to ensure a happy
and prosperous life. Yes, I said a schedule
to ensure a happy and prosperous life.
© Martin Stannard