Friday, 31 October 2008

Jazz Poem: Echoes

A poem about life in academia.


Half-asleep in the crowded lecture hall.
Face after face, row after row
and me. Words like flies buzzing round my head
like memories of summer.
Outside, the whirling flakes of snow
the ivy climbing on the redbrick wall.

Somewhere or other, lovers are kissing
the bereaved crying out in woe
and soldiers writing epitaphs in lead
while tiny daisies flower
beneath some crumbling stonecarved Buddha's toe
on which a shaggy mountain sheep is pissing.

It's all out there. It's all going on.
We don't have to bother with it though.
We just sit here drowsily instead
and as the snow falls harder
and murky afternoon begins to grow
to murky evening and neon

I swat the troublesome words away
(forgetting they're not flies) and so
heedless of whatever's being said
float off along a river
long deepflowing beautiful and slow
until I hear the droning voice say

'When all's said and done,' and I wonder
when it comes to that how will we know?
When everything we write has all been read
and every word and gesture
each kiss, each killing, every stone we throw
mere repetition, will a voice of thunder

booming awesomely from the sky say
'That's your lot!' leaving us with no
new words to say and no new paths to tread?
Will the TV announcer
make a song and dance on the late-night show?
Will there be a sign up on the highway?

Silently a snowflake falls to earth
people pass by in the street below
a crow caws bleakly overhead
echoing snowflakes cover
the world, cold Jurassic winds blow
unheeding mothers go on giving birth.

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