Archive for July, 2013

On the Nature of an Ellipse

Posted: July 7, 2013 in Chat

1 Confession

How much effort I spent in the inculcation
of ideals to my children.

The more abstract, I thought, the better,
because least corruptible, and yet,

and this the conundrum I cannot plumb:
the more abstract they were, were they

the less applicable to the corrupt world;
and the world corrupt

because they abandoned it? This is
the parent’s fugue. I could not

allow entry to the worms of doubt, and so
held on, embellishing

the children’s part. Until the crash came,
the ideals fell apart

empty like pupae cases, and whatever came out,

like something the Customs ransacked
indifferent scotch from as a bribe

for letting through all the Greek stuff:
my ideal figurines.

To have erected safety nets: catch phrases, clichés.
I hold on to these. So I call this

mid-life crisis. It could be true, now life has become
a labyrinth, replete with swamps, dragons,

a multiplicity of experiences
it becomes impossible to wipe oneself free from.

To have no certainties left, my classical figures

by this dancing Siva, promising nothing
but the destruction of cities.

2 Testament

To circle day on day this mystery
of our lives, to say:

“I just lose heart.” As though the heart
and the losing are both

independent of us. We are just ghosts
that flit amongst buildings –

the city of giants we wander through –
a left-over from civilization.

How, once, we could aspire to
a major chord, a moving act….

Some say: “You have the feel of greatness…”
and then that qualifier: “… gone off.”

To wonder if these buildings we call our own
are hoardings hiding vacant lots;

a neglect there only September with its richness
of ruin can compare with.

If there is a frontier to spur us to,
it is how best to live with

what we have become, acknowledging
the daily step-down from ideals,

the articles, clauses, that curb and restrain –
or, is it, civilise us?

All Gullivers, struggling to rise, on the shores
of each our lives.

Wherever the parody, the homunculus
of history, stands upright

all there is, is this bald goblin, in Doc Martins,
with a brain barely functioning.

Once, we believed, we could move storms, control thunder,
we now find we only moved ideas about

on a game board, a screen set apart from the world,
which, in turn, keeps reminding us

more and more insistently, that reality
is more than the distant nod we allow it.


To be able to say:
‘Here I made a wrong decision.’
and ‘At this point, see, I was right.’

To say, ‘Here I had not thought through
to the consequences
of everything I was going to do.
A good job it was only half done.’
– but then, everything I do
has been only half done.

Then, ‘Something said five years ago
toppled my equilibrium
at this point, when poise was essential.’

To have become the kind of person
I most hate, if only briefly.