The Partitioned Wailing Wall

for Alain Painter

I have put into many ports
handle with care
stood on the wharfs, bare-shouldered
up to the knee, unloading
cashew and coconuts
and then set sail again
finding no substance to trade

I have seen the waters rising
and the walls submerge
the roofs converge
the children washed on
the battlements

I have heard the chasm cries
Stifled under jackboots
the whimpering against walls
lost somewhere
in the hoarse
Gött mit Uns !

Come home, she cried, strappadoed
in the lap of jettisoning tribes
Come home, my weary ones
home to toil and die
labour and sigh
curse and cry

Did he not withdraw to that
holy backwater by Milan
and with the cup of his Confessions
bathe his horrent sins away

I listened to a story
that our first quarter
remembered to tell
but the waters of the Himavant
had long curdled
in the breast
of the suttee wife

I listened long
in the myopic light
disfigured in the white heat
of our Enlightenment
to the trapped voices of inquiry
before all the mania of demigods
trumped through the weaning years
the delirious lust of revenge

And then, and then I
did not care what happened
what could happen
there was life
it was worth having
So I went
labelled: handle with care

Who are those people
skimming past the mortal coast
torch untouched by hand
in the drowning mists
have they no work to do
And that rope of smoke
A troubling dizziness
rising out of the funnel
of the Black Forest
where professors they say
guide the race
in the aftermath
of charred marrow
I see no mists, no ghosts
No coasts, only torches
and parades and blocks and blocks
of beering beef and munition mounds

and in the not too open days
froth in the lolling oceans
and bowelling brain-splattered skies

even like unmapped sunset glories
now the Krakatua lies spent
fished out of some Japanese isle

the false auroras of enchanting horizons
when soughing metallic dust
courses through skulls
lava in an epileptic fit

one by one numbered they falter
stricken parted
mother from unborn still-born
ravaged lover from brother
now huddled they go
up the altar
now a grey veil
to bind the blush of brides
wan and bent
voyaging through no-man’s water
to weak to feel even pain
O for a job, a job
to keep me going
to fatten my woman
to draw a pension

And while we are waiting
Give me leave, my Captain
Give me leave
To go upon the shore
for the sails do droop and flop
in the shrouded past and I
may no longer see the breast
of my tarnished home-born door

Kritik der Urteilskraft

Are we all agreed on this point
Then clear the court for the Queen Mother
Yesterday's sister science

Throw out the precedents, no, not that one
Dust those three long buried in Königsberg

And remember, always remember

Here are no laws, make your own
If the wind will not favour you
Then tear down the sails
If physics will hamper you
Then paddle your way through

Here are no laws, only, you
You must go on and on

That's all that's left for you
Give no quarter
Discount not your enemies
Always on and on

Here are no laws

T. Wignesan

If I might be allowed to say so, I think my "first" love was poetry. Unfortunately for me, the British curricula at school did not put me in touch with the Metaphysical Poets, nor with the post-Georgian school. Almost all the school texts after World War II contained invariably Victorian narrative poems and some popular examples of Romantic poetry. I chanced upon a selection of T. S. Eliot's and Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a little later on Pope's An Essay on Man and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That did the trick. Yet, I regret not having taken to prose in earnest earlier than the publication of my first collection: Tracks of a Tramp (1961). There's nothing like trying your hand at all kinds of prose exercises to come to grips with poetry. Or rather to see how poetry makes for the essence of speech/Speech and makes you realise how it can communicate what prose cannot easily convey. I have managed to put together several collections of poems, but never actually sought to find homes for them in magazines, periodicals or anthologies. Apart from the one published book, some of my sporadic efforts may be sampled at of Poems.htm

Last updated July 05, 2016