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Two Poems From Iceland

Whale Watching Off Reykjavik Harbour

where rain and ink mix
we have our sealegs

our limits an omniscience of mountains
our playground a fiction of sea

a pod of dolphins
mocks our quick recalcitrance

their limits an analogy of consequence
their playground an accident of show

minke whales surface
winning streaks of solitaire

their limits a bail of playtime
their playground an unlimitude of port

leave prints on the water
brief saliencing order

their limits a tenacity of surface
their playground an acumen of thing

remind me mammals
that we can’t drink salt!

play in the liminal
wake up home

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja is the main church in Reykjavik, built (so a tour guide told me) to resemble a glacier. Construction began in 1945 but was not completed until 1986. The top of the tower affords great views of the city at a cost of 700 ISK, but cash-strapped travellers should know that payment is ‘optional’ since there’s no-one around to check tickets (I learnt this the expensive way).

outcropping fauve homes and playmobil modernism
the northerly God-face rises
His edificial visage
a semblancing sheet of stoned cement

His shoulders staggered pixels given mass
His hair a freeze-frame glacier exploding
in a crucifix hat
His ears dark drums, grilled and lobeless

His eyes: clocks – forty-eight gold measures
projecting His order onto ice-capped vistas
His nose many small glass squares through which no heathen scent shall ever pass
and groomed to crown the light, His pane-stained moustache

His Holy mouth a mighty metal door
adorned with runes and a carved red shield
(top lip trembling paragraph of runes)
It is open. He is hungry. He eats tourists for breakfast.

On Nicolas de Staël’s ‘Composition, Undated’

I want to touch yr paint so bad
I want to run my fingers thru yr paint
I want it on my lips
I want my lips the colour of yr paint

I don’t want reverence
I want passion
Wrap me in yr canvas
Put yr paint all over me

Now I think I know how the French woman felt
Who kissed the Cy Twombly a few years ago
This is not a desire for transgression
But paint, and love of paint, and love, and paint

16 DEBAUCHEROUS DICOTYLEDONS

000

01

02

03

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06

07

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09

010

011

012

013

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0000

The dicotyledon, invented (I believe) by Thomas A. Clark, is a poem of two words in which the second word substitutes one letter in the first word for another, although (inspired by Ian Hamilton Finlay’s one-word poems of ‘a title plus one word’) I’ve here added a title to create a bastard form of Scottish minimalism fit for such impure subject matter. Special thanks to Luke Allan for introducing me to the form with apologies/acknowledgements for the striking resemblance ‘HUNGOVER’ bears to one of his poems.

Tristan Tzara Car Salesman

He was a buyer, a purchaser, a trader, a bargainer who exhibited and sold widely his cars and other vehicles, a vendor, a seller, a salesman. A man of immense vigour who continually moved forward throughout his life. He was a car salesman for whom the buying and selling of cars were one and the same. These qualities permeate all his work with its continuous opposition to non-participation in the car trade in all its repressive forms, whether moral or aesthetic. During his life he bought and sold ten-thousand cars and car-type vehicles, two hundred vans, sixty-seven heavy goods vehicles (or large vans), and a dune buggy. This list doesn’t include the many repairs of his cars and numerous car parts for customers. There are also all the cars and vehicles that he sent to car expos for his contemporary car salesmen. Tzara’s active concern for the car trade was reciprocated by these salesmen in their many test drives with him. His own cars were in turn sold to Arp, Braque, Dali, Sonia Delaunay, Ernst, Giacometti, Gris, Marcel Janco, Kandinsky, Klee, Léger, Masson, Matisse, Miro, Picabia, Picasso, Man Ray, and Yves Tanguy.

Remixed passage from Lee Harwood’s introduction to Chanson Dada: Tristan Tzara Selected Poems.

Poem 17/12/13

on seeing a smartly dressed man in town
walking with purpose and a bunch of flowers

1. aw bless
2. how very conventional a signifier of love
3a. I am jealous of his purpose
3b. I insist I’m only jealous of his faith in flowers

I have walked around town with purpose and flowers
I hope someone saw me and thought the same things