Saturday 5 November 2016

5 Poems by Dic Edwards

(after Faulkner)

Your wife is dying and you want to bury
Her in the place of her birth
You may need to ferry
Her across rivers in flood, move earth
To route her coffined corpse
And fight off the prejudice
Of those who deny their dimview to gawp
At this hated cargo from Colchis.

Your children are stern in their duty
To bring their mother from hell to heaven;
One builds the coffin while in vanaspati
Another pounds cake dough leavened
With grief’s sweat for the wake’s feast;
The youngest will find the theatre
In the trip, the games to play; the least
Concerned, the amateur.

Your wife, fading, watches as her son
Puts plank to plank and in the smell
Of baking times her end: the child wants the fun
To start. You, new-trousered, put hotel
Details in the back pocket and the fall
Upon which angels rise
And preparation squeezes out her last call
For air comes and now you improvise.

But the journey is harder than you expected
More biblical in its parts, so extreme
They become metaphors and the soon neglected
Corpse an abstraction to express a morpheme:
It cannot be further simplified –
It is a burden and through the many days’ flood
As your children suffer you are less justified
By the rising stink of her rotting blood.

You reach the place for the grave
You borrow spades and even the girl digs
You wonder whether she forgave
You for wearing the new trousers on the various rigs
You made to effect her portage. You pause: portage
You wanted to use that word: my wife’s
Portage, and in that expression you raise the stage
On which to clap the summing couplet for her life.


In the street sleet falls, harsh glassy
Rills carry the cab in which Chekov rides
There is something so precise
About him but not icy, something beside
The elegant beard which brings out his eyes
It’s that in his smile words loiter
in a disciplined way so that you may surmise
That here the words themselves reconoitre
For ideas.
And then in the restaurant
His slight frame and deference seem almost demeaning
As though the virtue in expression is to taunt,
Like Hamlet, silence, never winning
A moment with princely assertion –
Like his plays, shy rather than coercing.


Out of the plantations and the steaming afro
marshes where flies of every culture sting
And pit the skin with their own songs of joy and grief

And the stirred up with nothing but god to
Answer with and the brass bands of the Crescent
City who at the weddings and the picnics

And the funerals breath in the
Cadences of Moses and Ezra with
The prophets’ unclassifiable blast

Came Ragtime in the fin do siecle
Anarchy – breathing for the sake of bringing
In the air – that time of music beyond order

Maisie at the Mardi Gras fattening time
At Lent’s end heard behind the spilling
Riffs in the back street of Storyville, the creole –

More white than black – refraining Fur Elise
And then in the silence of the dog-shuffling morning
The creole fed his music into the blues and

Ragtime and Maisie, with her ass aswing loved
This hot music and declared when one scat
Ragmaster asked her: hey Maisie, what that

Scent yo wearin with yo ass all sassy there
To that hot music and she said: why iss nothing
but sweet ole jasmine but you may call that whole ting



Outside my window the forty tonners
Tunnel through the gloom; I glimpse
Their lights like fire flies. I imagine
I am on pack ice in an ice hut
Chewing on fish fat when outside
Through the thick air past my ice house
Passes a forty ton truck all lit like Christmas
To take food to a people in the North
People who will come back like primitives
Who will bash on my hut driven by a sense of
Justice until it sinks into the cold sea.


Helena, that unknown capital city
Of the wild world, symbol of the abandon
We in our stern age are weathered with.

Montana whose name breathed life into
A fern leafed poem stilled as earth
Emptied of force before the ultimate

Force of the full torrent of nature’s
Rage. A child goes forth and bleeds
Before a tree stubbed by the master’s greed.


Dic Edwards lives in West Wales. His plays have been produced in London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Australia, Edinburgh, Glasgow. His poems have been published in Poetry Wales and The Lampeter Review. His plays are published by Oberon Books Ltd., London and New York. His collection Walt Whitman and other poems appeared in 2008 (Oberon Books Ltd). He teaches Creative Writing at University of Wales, Trinity St. David, Lampeter.

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