Conundrum

Alan Jackson

If I drop two oatcakes out of a fifth-floor window
while waving goodbye to a gentle friend
who is on his way to India to find himself
and at the same time trying to catch a quick bite
before returning to my lifeís work entitled:
"How To Get On Top Without It Getting You Down",

and

if one of the oatcakes falls into a sleeping babyís pram,
bashing its innocent nose to such an extent
that the nose bleeds and the baby yells

and

if the other oatcake should knock a kingsize into the pram
from out of the hand of a passing fourteen-year-old punk

and

if the mother who is up to her knees in dirty dishes
she using the old-fashioned method
rushes out to find the punk rummaging in the pram
for his lost solace while her baby cries
with a bleeding battered nose

and

if the said aggrieved and much careworn mum jumps instantly
and forgiveably to the wrong conclusion
and yanks the punk by the hair meanwhile bawling
and shouting at him

and

if he, being a stranger both to the art of articulate speech
and the legends of the Knights of the Round Table
kicks her in the legs

and

if she, being immensely stronger and much angrier
than any young amateur of anarchism
drags him pell-mell round the corner to get justice

and

if meanwhile the wind, picking up a little, begins
to fan the smouldering Rothmanís as it nestles
in the warm woollies of the howling babe

and

if also the plastic nappies of the babe are highly combustible
so that the rosy-cheeked one is soon the centre
of a raging inferno and is with rather shocking speed
reduced to cinders, not to mention the pram and
it not paid for yet

well

I mean, am I to blame, am I to blame?
Myself, biased though I may be, I think not,
personally and without overly exercising myself,
I blame my friend who went off to India,
frankly.


Salutations

I bring you salutations from the planets
I bring you watch and welcome from the stars.
I come on embassy and with no weapons
But with these gifts of words, ideas and symbols
Traced from the stuff in which the high ones travel
Transformed by medium and by distance
Into shape-thoughts suitable for earth.

Through the barriers of death and dark
That are set about this dwelling-place, I came.
Must please excuse the lateness of my speaking:
So fearful was the atmosphere I passed through,
So fierce the time and terrible my landing,
I was smashed out of the meaning of my visit;
And when murmurs of it slowly came to surface,
Iíd been so shredded then compressed into a type,
I was staggered and disheartened by the chasm
Between what spoke within me and the day.

Then came my story like one of your long novels
Of which there is no need to speak here now.
I sum it up by saying: As I lay,
Listening to the message I had in me,
Repeating and rehearsing and comparing,
Alternately being weakened and made strong,
One came up very close and sat beside me,
Looked into my eyes and said: "I see you,
And even if only I, it is enough.
Donít hesitate and donít mistake your meaning.
You are what your in-thoughts tell you, that is sure.
Stand up, go out, speak to those who listen.
Your embassy begins at every dawn."

So my vehicle of travel was revived,
The robe of love and light that is my home.

I bring you salutations from the planets
I bring you watch and welcome from the stars
When I remember, I remind you we are spirits
Who can wake from death to life and lose our scars

The word is clear, it is: to abandon.
The word is clear, it is: to suffer pain.
The word is clear, it is: to surrender.
The word is clear, it is: you are not lame.

I come from the realm of the creators.
Who inhabit every molecule of space.
I look into this world which is still sleeping
And can only be unfolded through our race.

We do not know how rich we are with treasures
We do not know whatís done on our behalf
We grind and cut up all the humble workers,
The trees, the herds, the whales, the little grass.

We try to cure our pains by public measures
Instead of turning to the heart that gives us breath.
Too proud to work beside the silent creatures:
What we legislate, en masse, is only death.

Yet what sleeps in earth and us will be awakened,
Like Arthur, and be sure, it comes through pain:
The necessity of heartís being broken open,
And the love that pours from who for love is slain.

I bring you salutations from the planets,
I bring you watch and welcome from the stars.
Be brave, all you who care for this endeavour,
We have yet to live and die through many wars.


 

 

The Immortal

Someone with great confidence can set out
from the other side of the world to find me
that if I was not here would not think
of travelling

Neither of us knows that the other exists
but we will met outside a boutique
and go for coffee

and between laughter and trembling amazement
the hemispheres will open and a child will be born.

Love will smile
we will hear from the stars
our angels will be able
to breathe better into earth

and we will be perplexed and enriched by troubles
beyond anything we have ever heard of;
moody hate will force us to think
how on earth to conduct ourselves
through the barbarity of the unredeemed
that we bring out in each other;
sweet freedom and difficult duty will tear us
till we grip both the reins, she hers, I mine,
with such intensity of purpose
that the planet appears as all-souls,
the immortal establishes itself between the heart
and the brow
and we learn to wear earth as it should be worn Ė
as the last work of the gods
before Love


© 2000 Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson was born in 1938 and has lived mostly in Edinburgh, Scotland. He began giving poetry readings in 1960. Part of the rise and renaissance of readings through the Sixties with people like Brian Patten and Adrian Mitchell. "Penguin Modern Poets" volume, 1968. "Attack on Scottish Nationalism", "The Knitted Claymore", 1972. "Salutations", Collected Poems 1991 (still available from himself). Work that no publisher yet wants: "Walking through Apocalypse". "That is a description of the meaning of the time we are in, the result of being nearly havocked to death in the abyss, and being forced under that pressure to forge the blade that won me through, not just to earth again, but to starlight."

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