Thursday, 11 June 2015

21st Century Poetry: A Revenant of Russell Square and other Poems by J. Albert Barr

Almost two years ago I posted ten of my original poems. which featured, for instance, "The Library of the Sandman" and my four symbolism-heavy "bird sonnets" (you can still find these poems among my older posts by scrolling down and clicking on "older posts" or on My Archives to access them). The response wasn't exactly "mania-inducing" to say the least, but this is poetry we're talking about after all, and it's an art-form that, unfortunately, does not garner the audience and attention it once kind of had some time ago. But I'm of the throwback and stubborn sort, so I've decided to post some more of my own poems here at The Culture Fix for those still retaining a genuine inclination towards the poetically written word,...and all ADHD be damned, I say!  :-)


The rose and its scent are suspended in cyber frost,
And the fire warms nothing off the flickering screen;
Time is post-historic and the past has become the present
With a fluctuating face and a twisted reflection.
The children are older now in the coital ways
Of the marketing and the selling of perfect images;
These images that demand attention and respect,
Far removed from passages of growth and maturity:
Youth keeps refusing the wisdom of tomorrow's wrinkle,
Even when youth has been displaced by a younger demographic.
There is no light of heart to be heard in the laughter between
The prepubescent and the "new-forty crowd" taking shots at midnight,
But there is laughter nonetheless in and around the garden,
And by the trees that are of no effect to them as they inhale,
Motionless, the emotions that are lost on an eternal moment.

                                    The winter feels perennial,
Just as yesterday seemed certain in its sunny disposition,
But certainly cold before the bathers at the beach
And the customers in the express lane or aisle or pew.
The seasons are all preserved in the mainframe;
The clouds return the Sun's rays with dubious frequency,
As we harp on the loss of birds and bees flying between the knees.
Our own flight from the internal noise of ego has gone
Deeper below the threshold of conscience and out into the
Open air of shameless self-promotion and support;
There you can see and hear the froth of endless voices
Coagulate into a mass of membranes reduced to protozoic sense.
The dike is overflowing.
The slaughter is in the details,
Where the swans remain trapped in the ice, and are laughed at
Behind the blue-screen and the savage avatar.
The social rituals and redundancies are displayed with
The fragrance of an axe and the touch of an eel;
A taste that electrifies the palate of a cadaver,
Or the rapture of a seasoned critic.

                                       But there is no joke to savor,
No now worth building on and setting roots to still.
All is not well in the turbine of the city's flow
As the alienated are remote from such alienation
In a fourfold fashion deluded into thinking they can think
Outside of themselves and for the betterment of humankind;
The same humankind scuttling for the postern door of virtuality,
Letting in and letting out all reality in an unreal way.
The mental defenses of the collective who buy
Are assured by the commercials and trend-setters;
Those authorities that are known and unknown
Who manoeuver celebrities like pieces on a chessboard
And calibrate the pop-charts like the weather.
The beginning and the end of this disjointed time
Has no end to claim and begins on a constant loop
For the poor benefit of a beleaguered minute
And the rich impairment of old time rebooted.


In this dark, my answers remain elusive;
the question is a shadow.
The chill does not still beneath my heart,
and my rankled nerves squirm inside the cracking bark.
Indecipherable chatter echoes from afar, so far
across a lost intangible plain,
with the smell of dead time putrefying.
This is the cold moment of souls:
waiting, waiting, waiting,...wasting away.
Branches snap like a whip in the wind.
In this wood, my thought remains petrified,
and the root is always bleeding.


As she brought forth the wind,
inhaling the grace that filled her lungs,
vistas would dance before her sky blue eyes;
these eyes that gleamed in wild delight, infused
with wonder as the sun, over the lush trees,
strew itself upon the rustling leaves.

While others, portioning memories onto a crooked plate,
in order to see them, vainly ask why this day should
match the days they did not capture in the past,
as they grope for endurance in the face of seeming
nothingness. Wretched and bitter, like a cold moon's
surrounding surface, it has worn them pale.

They can no longer see beyond the dying surface, grey
like ash - their inward skies empty of any
resurrecting birds. Hopes and dreams distilled in angst.

She would not fathom such anguish, such feelings of loss;
this glowing child immune to darkness and despair,
with a smile that could penetrate stones.


In the play of the trace, I have the peer of the realm,
And I translate the moods of my blood within it.
And only when this thought runs rampant
Into the shadow of its black wall
Does darkness have a wide wing-span.

Vanishing into the stark white border,
Enclosing the dream, I enter the absence
Of the ideal world dependent on presence.
The wherewithal of being, truth, center, origin,
Cannot hold its vaunted claim of stability,
Trapped in language and forever sliding to and fro,
There is no escape from the perpetual vacillation.

Words are not flesh, and metaphysics cannot reign
While rendered subordinate in undecidability.
The letter p cannot be without c or d or e,
Nor any other within the arbitrary alphabet.
And can the Pharmakon cure maintain a scapegoat?
An omegabet in reverse? Its twin poison denied avowal!

The either/or of meaning is premised on interweaving
Between what is there and not there; a fundamental relation
Constituted on the basis of the trace between those elements
Inherently structured to upset the balance, pertaining to
The privileged voice of the intentional expressive and
The disharbouring leaf of the falling indicative.
This is the presence of the spoken weighed against
The absence of the written, and tracing the divisions
Of both has inflicted this
Unhealed paper-cut of the mind.
And so it is said, and/or writ?
The differance is, and remains open.


Lifeless she loomed, though not clinically dead,
Staring with lassitude into the silent emptiness
Of her vimless world. You could feel time prematurely
Having its way with her careworn face, hanging
Submissively, oblivious to those occupying the same
Subway car, who, themselves, bled their own apathy.
Not even a trace of sadness could be detected
Within the moribund air choking yet another morning commute.

She, slouched catatonic, with desert eyes that
Could only weep salt, with gaunt, wrinkled hands
Just strong enough, it seemed, to applaud death,
Had blurred the point of her joyless destination.
It mattered little now, like her miasmal life.
Could nothing, but the cold metal box enclosing her,
Move the disabled soul of this sepulchral woman,
Like the boundless energy so teeming in her youth?


The blood on that magazine cover isn't real
But the disturbance outside whets the appetite.
I'm a man of numbers trapped in an unwanted alphabet.
The topographic plains of these tanned walls confide
An alien silence buried inside the husk of dried seeds.

A video Tower of Babel avails itself for a death of time,
And on the mount sits a sordid commissioner of sorts.
He is situated between an applauding rabble of libertines,
And a cause for trouble's sake to placate some illusive mandate:
Outside and obscured by the mist lies a serpentine meal of itself.

I'm no wonder among partial quarks and quantum scenes,
A wayward lance from a dusty history book pierced my shadow.
O! Godspeed the sounds of my faux Art Deco disc player:
The sole redeemer and counterpoint to my battles with the lamp
That seems to always goad my left elbow into anatomical mutiny.

In theory, my tea can ponder the hermeneutics of cyberspace.
There's a Persian polo game on eternal pause inside a frame:
"Bold rider, never, never canst thou score - yet, do not grieve,
For grand Persepolis has been restored into virtual evermore."
The tea leaves say all ye need to know of a beauty beyond truth.

I hear war drums muffled beneath the truncated tusk of courage;
And a bank statement whispers, "I own you", from across the room.
The furniture has conspired to expropriate my favorite memories.
I am disturbed by these fancies that have coiled inside of me:
A certain reality for an indefinitely lost, indefinitely filed thing.


City, your polluted non-soul pisses acid rain,
precipitated by those who keep you erect,
and enclose themselves within you,
as you digest, coldly, a daily morsel of their life-force,
and belch the industrial bile of what you're fed, subserviently,
to maintain your system of operation,
under the prime directive: to produce and consume,
buy and sell, discard and waste.

This is our self-constructed cage,
gilded with opportunity in the market place,
where dreams of luxury beat voraciously
in our pining hearts, because the signs say so!
And who's to question the ubiquitous adverts
insisting on one's attention to influence
a future intention?

Conditional response; subliminal control,
directing choice under the guise of freedom
and dictating the standards of pleasure,
which only hold a narrow margin in recessive minds,
deemed popular, acceptable, normal, and imperative
to capitalism - the modern religion.

Feeding rapaciously on the synthetic cornucopia
of mass produced "stuff", devoid of organic redemption;
the city's children, exploited cogs of the Great Wheel,
living a life, or so they believe, of individual decision,
under the proud banner of constitutional democracy,
continue, unaware, and mired in regulated ignorance.

The ruse, plied by the spectres of power,
that turns the world counter to the globe,
oinks its way to boundless profit, as the city gradually assimilates
the collective: not distinguishing pigs from sheep.


I could wish this morning blue
less somber than a funeral march,
and more serene than a lapsed catholic.
But I persist to chew its persistence,
openly without regret and gladly within its measure:
a placid declaration of mutual resignation,
neither sorry nor willing to chase each other away,
despite a feverish soul unable to accept its evanescence,
and a subjective perception unsure of its own reflection.

Twittering bones of unseen fear abound, folding inwardly
and swaddled in darkness, obtaining a purer sense
of isolation, locked inside a silent scream.

The days flee, imperceptibly, as time incurs the indifference
of a single, solitary universe, no bigger than an average man.
This is pale and true;
this realization in black,
yet, conversely, as white too, and no less false
under logical scrutiny somewhere in the grey.
This is pleasure as much as is pain.

I should wish this morning blue forever,
whatever language of account dictates the day's numerous phases,
thus ending my course on one of those unspecified days,
usually unbidden and sudden,
and almost always never wished.

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