The face must languish behind the dungeon grill:
Mussolini’s upside down on a butcher’s hook.
The fortress must posses one gate to breach:
a bomb bursts open the Czar’s rib cage.
The younger bull must fight to take the herd:
Savonarola flares like the Maid of Orleans.
The polar bear must stalk his frozen ‘berg:
Viking blood stains rock in Labrador.
The axe must hack the rimu and the oak:
the tides crash back on Pharaoh’s frenzied men.
I’ve been slowly putting up poems from my first volume ‘Against the Maelstrom’ – poems written more than forty years ago, by a guy who in some respects seems a stranger but in other respects is extremely readily identifiable. The poem is evidence of his state of mind at the time.
My first marriage was disintegrating and I was threshing around in bureauctatic middle management. I seemed to be lost in a legalistic maze. The best years lay ahead but I didn’t know it at the time. Life at that stage seemed rather pointless. What I didn’t understand was that new compass bearings were being set.
As a rule of thumb it used to be when I was unhappy I read a lot of non-fiction, fiction when I was happy. Now, I read a mixture of both – whether that’s maturity or not I leave to the jury; I wouldn’t make the claim.
At the time I was reading a life of Savonarola. History-Life seemed to be a record of conflict and stress. Nature, red in tooth and claw, included human nature. The poem rests its case.
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