Friday, 26 September 2014


A rather sombre poem this week. I think I should offer some explanation. Recently I read Ostland by David Thomas, a fictionalised account of a policeman in the late 1930's who ended up being tried for war crimes he had committed on the eastern front in Minsk. The man was sentenced to ten years in prison which is the approximate equivalent of eight hours for every person he murdered.The poem is my attempt to deal with the horror.
The Red Deer River, in Canada, Hell Creek and Como Bluff in America are all places where huge quantities of dinosaur bones were found. 

There is More Than One Kind of Mass Extinction.

I had wanted to work with stone,
to ponder questions of articulation,
solve an enigma of petrified remains.
The next train approaches the railhead.

My childhood had glowed with tales of boxcars
crammed with puzzle bones,
hauled from the badlands of the mid-west.
I am in the east, this train has crossed Poland.

The Red Deer River, Hell creek,
the Como Bluff bottleneck of body parts...
this happen chance of fossilisation.
My work now concerns resettlement.

The postcards have been written,
receipts given for belongings.
Dentists have scoured mouths for treasure,
guards eyes the piles of clothes.

I wait in line by the trench,
my loader is ready, the vodka to hand.
I put muzzle to shaking neck,
the carcass tumbles into the pit.

This day will pass in a haze of vodka,
the smell of shit,
black powder smoke
and a parade of faces.

I do not dream often and when I do
it is of resurrection,
of some other life discovering
the remains of our industry.

The broken skulls mineralised,
each deformed lead pellet a semi-precious stone.
Mismatched bodies, rebuilt from the surviving bones
will people a museum gallery.

I would be interested to know what you make of it. Thanks to Juncture 25 for their constructive feedback on the poems layout. On a lighter note here's Anna Terheim [and friends] singing an alternate version of Summer Rain.

No comments:

Post a Comment