Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Wednesday, March 01, 2006  

Mass Man

Through a great lion's head clouded by mange
a black clerk growls.
Next, a gold-wired peacock withholds a man,
a fan, flaunting its oval, jewelled eyes;
What metaphors!
What coruscating, mincing fantasies!

Hector Mannix, waterworks clerk, San Juan, has entered a lion,
Boysie, two gold mangoes bobbing for breastplates, barges
like Cleopatra down her river, making style.
"Join us," they shout. "Oh God, child, you can't dance?"
But somewhere in that whirlwind's radiance
a child, rigged like a bat, collapses, sobbing.

But I am dancing, look, from an old gibbet
my bull-whipped body swings, a metronome!
Like a fruit bat dropped in the silk-cotton's shade,
my mania, my mania is a terrible calm.

Upon your penitential morning,
some skull must rub its memories with ashes,
some mind must squat down howling in your dust,
some hand must crawl and recollect your rubbish,
someone must write your poems.

--Derek Walcott, from Collected Poems, 1948-1984

posted by Jonathan | 6:17 PM 0 comments


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