Lyndon Davies


From the Battlements
Rainer Maria Rilke

Knowing that there is silence,
especially here where the storm
blowing from no direction
rants in the turret-tops;

and that all is open now
through a lancet window, slim
as an asparagus-stick, begrimed
by the siege you shut your eyes on,
by soot, by cordite;

and that when you lie asleep
pure waters descending
from distant glaciers
ripple through your mouth's
raw pit, like a spirit
fluttering in a charnel-house;

you begin to speak
and everything you abandoned,
waiting, who'd thought
you could never wait long enough
with sufficient reason,
gathers in the courtyard.


Quitting the Premises

One at a time they enter, at maddeningly
regular intervals. You could check your calendar,
your watch...
Here’s the drill: a scuffle at the threshold,
followed by footsteps, slurred but becoming clearer,
each sick howl modulating to a hum
of baffled insolence, which is when you’d get them
and break them: the clods, the callow ones, just to see
the juice slew out -
at the merest touch,
at the merest whisper.

It becomes frustrating,
there’s nothing to get your teeth into,
or that gets its teeth into you, though the time
is ripe (desolation honed on its echo),
deserves its brawl, its rebuttal. What gathers,
ravening, beyond the pieties of the public square,
is yours to long for, is yours to call to,
stamping that hoof...

When you least expect it
air shunts in the corridor, somebody breathing hard
goes rattling past in a pother, shaking a sword
and yodelling; is gone before you’ve even managed
to point the lens or prepare the seismograph -
to lessen it by any scale of reckoning,
this Great Event, this phenomenon, which you,
admit it, could never have hoped for nor imagined,
but have to go on imagining forever.

Better to leave, though, while you know you can,
by following a thread which ends at your feet,
down many corridors, none of them distinctive
except the last - that’s the one where daylight
blares from the opening and a crowd heaves through
to greet you; although, when they see you coming,
the silence drops like a shutter; the throng
gives way before you, cleaves like a rotten fruit;
for you are not the one they were expecting.


Antonin Artaud

For the final ritual of the evening
everyone held hands and danced in a ring
around the spoiltip, stamping their feet
and shimmying as if their lives depended on it;
closing the circle gradually, moving in
on that rubble-cone, lit up like the pomegranate trees
of Dis,
with erotic fruit, malign fruit,
and crunching it down to atoms beneath their boots,
their fists.

No wonder the creature stirs
on the top, and lifting his head from his armpit,
licks his lips and ullulates like an old-
fashioned red-indian. His territory is diminishing
fast: it's a toss-up whether the poison
mounting their limbs will rise quickly enough
to assist.
Already some of them are on their knees
calling for unction as their lights go pop;

some others are ripping their togs off – it seems to them
they're fading away. It's hideous: the male
and the female sexual organs have got mixed up
in the ruck – each fused with its opposite. He gobbles them
down for dinner, suddenly going off
like a missile, a glowing stone in his mouth,
is hurtling away to everywhere at once.