THE CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART


Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart,
and be no more stiffnecked.
- Deuteronomy 10:16 (KJV)

1/
Often it comes when I’m doing something else,
walking to the shops in the iambics of rhythmic
languor, or picking my nose waiting for
the washing machine to finish, the brawling
of sparrows softened to music by the windowpane,
or the moment you catch the blades of grass
whispering to each other, their hearts beating
wildly before they notice you, maybe the distant
sound of thunder, where the creative impulse
is in the small things – limericks rather than Epic,
and Dresden china shepherds, not Michelangelo.

2/
It starts as a music half familiar, half alien
inside and outside at the same time,
and in that chorus of momentary distraction
is the sound that explains everything.
Then you hear the words, not quite in your language,
Delphic babble requiring a coat of gloss,
even as I half-heartedly take dictation
and the lines fall and lie down neatly in furrows
on the page’s chaste snow coverlet.

3/
Or else it’s a bit like a snowball rolling down
the piste, gathering snow as it goes.
“Whereof we cannot speak,” says Wittgenstein,
“thereof we must remain silent.”
Bullshit says the poet, bordering on apoplexy
to communicate the state of their inscape,
That’s why I have all these figures of speech,
the circumlocutions of language aspiring
to a more refined version of the crude
grok that is music. An MRI can show you feeling,
but a Beethoven symphony reveals what it feels like.


4/
Salting Carthage earth on Margarita night
it’s hard sticking to those revolvers
that the bloated commander of the Luftwaffe mentions
(though were he wittier, he should have reached
for his Browning, but Nazis were rarely clever)
when the world hates your guts,
but praise is the honeytrap that keeps you
circling the foothills of Enlightenment
or picking up shells when the Pacific lies behind you.
If you wear a mask out where people can see you
they think they know you, you’re a mate, in their gang
or their worst enemy, so don’t expect me
to go with the flow… She won’t be right…

5/
Poetry is like crack:
write enough of it and it becomes part of you
like yearning or an elbow.
In a poem is a more efficient expression

than trying to talk to you.

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