Author Archives: Alan Reynolds
lines listening to the blues
From time to time I work on a series that I am provisionally calling OUT OF BODY. Here’s one from there:
Fin de Siècle, encore
Musing with Avian Onlooker
Harbour Views on the Nearing War
Grebes break up boat reflections in the bay.
A single-master singles up her lines
and diesel-coughs her tired hull underway.
Whatever outcome anyone opines
about the war that heated up last night,
the grebes and coots and herons do not care.
The mallards graze the harbour, and, on deck,
the ship’s dog barks with pleasure at the sight.
Blond preschool children and their mother fare
well across the footbridge as a fleck
of oil an Adriatic ship has brought
spreads out, obscuring all we have been taught.
Who would have thought a feud could start a war
except the thankless cool unblinkered few?
Their knowledge does not get them very far
coming as it does without a clue
of how to stop the cancerous growing slick
of hatred that puts paid to common sense
and seeks ignition surely as these teals
seek mates when lengthening days dictate a quick
run on nest materials. The dense
smoke lifts and morning news reports reveal
what we have learned our fare is: people scared
and voice-overs as if someone cared.
I watch myself reflected in a pane
of the glass that lines the terrace where I sit
with a harbour view that’s blinkered against pain.
The year’s first tourists settle down to fit
themselves around a seaside lunch, some wine,
and what to them suffices for good talk.
I’m silent, less than jealous, for I want
escape from precognition. I sit and pine
for the innocence of birds, the calm a stalk
of celery displays. Such blank thoughts taunt
my conscience that does nothing. The world turns
while troops look how the house they’ve taken burns.
I know the answer: that there is not any.
I’d be depressed but find such cop-outs weak.
Besides, the Devil tells me, there’re too many
people living, and a war can tweak
ecologies to cleanse the world of slums
as well as of penthouses that encroach
upon what postwar is the perfect site:
sand everywhere, and the bones of what were bums
or children: offerings war makes to the Roach.
I pay and leave, afraid the Devil might
conclude my apathetic gaze means Yes.
There is no other answer I can guess.