Rosin-Dust Under the Bridge

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The final part of this poet's trilogy dealing with aspects of his life and coping with traumatic incidents in a fractured stream-of-consciousness narrative mode

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  • ROSIN-DUST UNDER THE BRIDGE

    LAURENCE JAMES

    Belfast

    Lapwing

  • ROSIN-DUST UNDER THE BRIDGE

    Poems

    LAURENCE JAMES

    Belfast

    LAPWING

  • First Published by Lapwing Publicationsc/o 1, Ballysillan DriveBelfast BT14 8HQ

    lapwing.poetry@ntlworld.comhttp://www.freewebs.com/lapwingpoetry/

    Copyright Laurence James 2013Cover Image and Photograph Copyright Joy Dee 2013

    All rights reservedThe author has asserted her/his right under Section 77

    of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988to be identified as the author of this work.

    British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data.A catalogue record for this book is available from

    the British Library.

    Since before 1632

    The Greig sept of the MacGregor Clan

    Has been printing and binding books

    All Lapwing Publications are

    Hand-printed and Hand-bound in Belfast

    Set in Aldine 721 BT at the Winepress

    ISBN 978-1-909252-32-5

    ii

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Acknowledgements are due to the editors of the following:Yellow Crane, Outlaw, Tears in the Fence,

    Fire, Pennine Platform, Rialto, Obsessed with Pipework, Other Poetry, Poetry Wales.

    My thanks to dear Joy Deefor her cover image and portrait photograph;

    alsoThom Mascia and Carlise Starrett

    from Hobart William Smith College, USA,visiting students at the University of Wales (Carmarthen)

    for their tidy work on the proof-stages.

    iii

  • CONTENTS

    41THE WHEELBARROW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    40MAINTAINED MAINTAINED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    39LOOK! IT CAME BACK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    37SAYS MY BROTHER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    35JUST GENTLE PADRE GENTLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    34TOGETHER YOU WILL WARD OFF . . . . . . . . . . . .

    33INTO THE PULSE IN PADRES ASHES . . . . . . . . . . . .

    30TO WHERE THE FARE IS GOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    28NOW AND THEN THE NIGGLING . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    26NEAR AS DAMN IT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    24MEANWHILE SPARKS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    23A MYTH THESE SKYLIGHTS SET . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    22ALREADY HE IS TALKING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    21THE FARE THE AIRPORT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    20A PYRAMID OF HUGE DARK GREEN FRUITS . . . . . . .

    18AND THIS IS ONLY HALF THE PICTURE . . . . . . . . . .

    14WITH FIRST ROSIN-DUST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    13LAYING ON OF PRACTISED HANDS . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    11A PAPYRUS IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE SAYING . . . . . . .

    10GROUNDED SO TO SPEAK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    8AS SEEN ON HD TV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    7INVOCATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    iv

  • 68CURTAIN WALL OF A RIDGEFORT . . . . . . . . . . . .

    67SEA DISTANCING ITSELF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    66YAY! FATSALMONPINK INGRATIATING ITSELF . . .

    65A FLOCK EVERY ONE OF WHICH . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    64A GYPSY MILKY WAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    63IN NO TIME TAKEN TOO LONG IN THERE . . . . . . .

    62FETCHED DOWN IN THE NIGHT . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    61SOME IRONIC CANDLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    60MYTHOLOGY THAT IS UNTIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    58IF EVER THE PLACE IS FOR SALE . . . . . . . . . . . .

    57AFTER A HANSEATIC HARBOUR . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    55CONFIRM YOUR CONCRETENESS . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    53BLACK HEDGES NETTING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    52AFTER A LAPSE CHILDBIRTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    49FIT FOR NINE THOUSAND THOUSAND . . . . . . . . .

    48HEAVEN IN PERSON SWAPPING SHIFTS . . . . . . . .

    48A SMOKE-GLASS SMOKE-RING OF UNCHARTED BLUE

    47ZIGZAG OF MY GAZE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    45THE BLOOD IN MY BLOOD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    44BUT NOTE WELL A CHAMELEON . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    43A NATIONAL GARDEN SOMEWHERE . . . . . . . . . . .

    42COUNTERPOINT OF BLACK BIRDS . . . . . . . . . . . .

    v

  • ForMaster Fs sake

    Painter, Printmaker, Confidant, Collaborator

    We may make a personality cult of the conductor,but we are aware that he is not really makingthe music, it is making him - if he is relaxed,open and attuned, then the invisible will takepossession of him; through him it will reach us.

    Peter Brook (The Holy Theatre)

    the guitarist in my last line-upplayed like nobody evertaught him - you know,one note after the next note,like Jimi.

    Miles Davis (in interview) referencing Hendrix

    he was also well aware that without punctuationhe imported levels of ambiguity into his text(that you may drill my sentences in your own way)

    Martyn Crucefix on John Clare (1793 - 1864)PN Review No. 208

    vi

  • INVOCATION

    in earthenwaremy bowls have itin them to hold fire- water of out & outwassail to hold tooat times of night-sweats straight H2O

    so! Old Clay-Maker!bless these vessels& all who avail them-selves of themeach vessel setsealed & firedon my own insides

    & yes blessall who avail them-selves of themthough my currentfire expire &lest the fireexpire

    Laurence James

    7

  • AS SEEN ON HD TV

    his eyelashes meet in a conclusion

    the hands do not movefrom their pockets but

    spread in unseen reflexunderscoring some-

    thing as well leftnot said literally

    plain to see his browsparallel with brim

    of straw hat worn effortlessly well

    jerk extempore upwardsat the calm balmy

    aegean blue overhead& it is done & thereby said

    *

    island-hoppers travellingin the wrong way

    take it for insolence but it issimply the all-greek wordfree

    NO ie ochimany tongues have adopted it

    that classical economyextreme heat draws out of everything

    Rosin-Dust Under the Bridge

    8

  • for instance us

    *

    1 or 2 whole syllables against this

    sublimated yes but quite likelyrooted in a rutting iguana

    as seen on HD TV contending with the pretender

    a same old accentedtoss of his dusty scaly head

    here as in the tropics of whathomo sapiens sapiens

    thinks of as prehistory

    Laurence James

    9

  • GROUNDED SO TO SPEAK

    oh! he can and does debate allday just look at them there

    backs to the sea wall that magnetfor cuss force-niners imminent

    fingers fixing the torn literal net-work of their craft hear them

    swapping old salts gossipwith breakers already building

    out of a depth they run out of outthere keeping the archipelagos

    caique fleet in restlessly sogrounded so to speak

    *

    later on on nights like this our sea-mens one dream seven seas seething

    tides them over till the current storm-force presently drops they seeing through all

    landlubber hooey of solid hoodwinking thingsthe one shebang for itself all seaborn all flux

    ebb & crescendo crescendo & ebbrattle & tickle whether cycladean sand

    or stranded zen shingle

    Rosin-Dust Under the Bridge

    10

  • A PAPYRUS IS UNDERSTOOD TO BE SAYING

    then sand and water it is thoughtintroduced between raw rock and a soft-metal tool release a block

    manmade in one to be setup against the arabic sunand tagged in our time a wonder

    pre-perspective images left over quite otherin-situ stone go some way to explainthe odd obelisk moving along the nile

    a papyrus is understood to be sayingin order to stand the stone remove all grainfrom the chamber beneath grains of sand that is

    soon archeologists are challenging each other tore-enactments on tv after some dry runs in the labwe see the sand needs to be bone dry to flow away like water

    viewers are invited to witness a replica obelisklying flat in a prepared deserta little under half on the undoctored sand

    a little over half buoyed by identical sand but sandcontained in a mighty cisterninto the walls of which sluice gates

    have been let in to be opened so the sand does go sinking to cushion all the timea pivot tilt slide of base-heavy stone that dives

    down through sand (as a whale on another channeldown onto square acres of plankton)touching down to lean still somewhat

    Laurence James

    11

  • yet aligned to have met on cue the runnel cut in a pedestalwaiting under all thosefathoms of sand

    to stop the skid of obelisk off its base until a media crewcan enlist and rehearsetwin tug-of-war teams in

    easing for once in the same directionwith us in virtual jelebiehs it the obelisk

    with restraint and much musclethe final degree or twointo true

    Rosin-Dust Under the Bridge

    12

  • LAYING ON OF PRACTISED HANDS

    the master me the auditoriuma sea of faces rising to the godsattending to his teaching and howit brings out in me of all peoplenuances you do not know are never-the-less in your power it happensin the course of one hour but thisis no such time though blessedwith perfect pitch its allpure theory this afternoonsix strings simply will not tuneand sweat sticks the viol at my throat

    hear maestros voice extemporizea foreword at the brink of the pitall I see is his charismatic backas he winds them round his little fingerand speaks of the majesty of our piecedownstage here I am the unstrung dummyleft on a chair now his exquisite earknows my novice loss of nervethe unwanted vibrato that is me failingto even peg the pairs of open strings his intro does not falter while slowlyhe withdraws towards me circling

    right behind me till now he can leanon the back of my upright chairpulpitwise not letting his devoteesnote a thing amiss even as his touchbegins unpinching the nervesat my seized collarbone a kindof laying on of practised handstrained on a range of period instrumentsthat stay his domain the public talkstops he turns to me but hardly need askso can we? starting with the slow movementnot the first if youd be so good!

    Laurence James

    13

  • WITH FIRST ROSIN-DUST

    before you know anything of mother tongue and the likeor put a little thumb and finger to very ownliteral tongue syntax and vocab will fly about youour attention drawn to immaculate hands in particulardelivered by scan and screen to a corner of a wardof expectation the airwaves agape

    sooner than you repeat or tease out a wordclose ones will lean over the playpen railto you bawling your little red socks and head off againwe adults touched to the point of dumbness at your handsin the flesh in the making intricate with smallnessthat takes one grown-up first finger for a handful

    we never do twig we were this scaled-down a score of years backthese recent steps and leaps and multiplication of cellson from this pre-you proto-you you removed by one gestationfrom platos idea of the true you dragged by ancient accidentto the big bang light of our limited senses now the gigglinggeometry round and round the garden of your palmgesticulating with a flourish out of the cuff of babygrowsthe shades of sweetpeas

    when words take hold youll reachfor a hand and invite with your handyholdy! the growingcircle you put names to for a toddling turn round a realfarmyard and not long off the very warm day under the brimof a tiny white sunhat under the fringed awning of a privilegedlaunch you trail your hand to the wrist in vast water ofthe blue or the white nile until that is a general inboardpanic theyll tell you about later the other trippers realizingand saving your little limb and unscathed soul their fingerspointing in horror to starboard and crocodile islanddo not fear not long and youll be holding on whiteknuckledto thrilling designer rides but also to the real boltinghorse that shies at a crisp packet in the hedge

    Rosin-Dust Under the Bridge

    14

  • lets hope therell be a music room at school a best teacherof your life her red brick room lined with solid black cello-cases their interiors plush-coloured open a crack waitingtheir timetabled turns at resurrection they promise good memoryto echo the smell of rosin and womans knowledge of phasesof the moon she will connive for the best of devious motiveswith colleagues winking and whispering of your so appropriatefirst random fingering on the fretless neckyour fingertips still soft but somehow at home even at this pointshe will quietly reposition your thumb at the back of the slimshone fingerboard of the three-quarter instrumentand spread your right hand to balance the bow of gentlytautened horse hair with first rosin-dust collecting under the bridgeyoull have to sweat blood james if you want to be any goodand in ways like this you will be given much however unquantifiable

    round about here your hands get quite good at catchingthe leather stitched into a blood red ball that stings the palmsas it flies straight at you out of a wood-slatted cradleeach ball the imagined dismissal of an opener grandpa gaffanot believing you are still pupil at age thirteen yetgoing along with the rest you undeniably blessedwith the fine clever hands of a surgeon the fact ison the way to the top they have in mind for you or to elsewherewithin the grand pyramid of things your stubby handswill get busy making blueprints of buildings on huge sheetsof transparent paper then pinning a walk-out noteto the drawing board the job came down to pickingdoor handles out of some catalogue

    so to the travelsyou may well pick grapes and oranges pick up oil at the local olive pressstretch hides of island jacob sheep to cure for hearthstreat a welsh black bull gaffa for new forest eyelay hedges dig graves write your mother tongueon whiteboard and blackboard lift the needle in the eveningsof all seasons to pick up the music that needs be by you openlywhere once you turned pages and dials under the coversyou will channel-hop from quizz to quizz and heave the rucksackto further places and their many people who are going to shake your handand of them the few who will change you

    Laurence James

    15

  • let one of these be the good woman outsiders take for your motherwhose touch takes fear out of intimacy that balanceslust and beatitude in the eyes of two faces no distance one from the otherthough you are the younger you will also have to comfort herwith a stroke of your knuckles just as her father didher memories of him loving and tragic old those of a ten-year-oldand in your ten years together your part will be to make her starein shock and yourself weep the instant your palm strikes her harshas the real kokoshka backdrop yours the desperation of delivery roomssilent a fraction too long a desperation to wake herthis wonderful woman brilliant and natural with people whowill not stop poisoning herself with good neighboursdown-to-earth wine at the bedside wine dark as dead blood

    and with your own mother dead twenty years it is now you who are fiftygrey canvas of the rucksack perished and the grey frame rustedin your fathers garage gold wrist-watch and wedding ringin an old tobacco tin for good a key to the last home you will ownnew and natural in hand lock and pocket

    the twin to your own ring lies who knows where removedtoo these thirteen years the thirteen years often theywere all you wore! what wakings to those eyes bright youngdark of hers! her blood running polish-ukrainian in a yankee sort of way the pure eyes of robin or that american-raptorharris hawk by repute easier to train! take up the tambourinein middle age and the finger-cymbals that ornament itswooden hoop will recall middle-eastern dance steps forwhich her pretty feet had most certainly the gift

    you stare at a paintingyourself in a green greatcoat the canvas held by a nailto a spreading map...