02. 01. 2017. 22:25

Black Butterflies in Yangshuo – Five poems from George Szirtes

"see the hibiscus / thick with black hordes. is it death / that you are bringing?"

– Five new poems from George Szirtes


Song from an Unwritten Pay


I am impatient to be old.
I want to get it over with.
I want to feel the pain and cold
I am impatient to be old.

I am impatient to fall down
And break my hips or ribs or wrist
I want to be broken foot to crown
I am impatient to fall down

I am impatient for the truth
I never knew and don’t know yet.
I didn’t know it in my youth.
I am impatient for the truth.

I am impatient for the rain
To soak me right through to the bone,
To see it rushing down the drain.
I am impatient for the rain.


They Were Closing Deals

They were closing deals.
They were sleeping and waking.
They were done drinking.
It was difficult.
They were badly out of breath.
They were overweight.
They opened the door.
They ran out into the street
because the street called.
There's nothing to see,
they said, and could see nothing
that would help them see.
They were hanging in
under a star shower. Bright
sparks in the darkness.
It was a bad year
to be stuck outside. It was
all storm and stutter.
It was a long year
to be ending. It was hard
to keep track of it.
It was elegy
without a subject. It was
simply vanishing.



No Disaster


You make it neat. You tie the ends together.
You tuck it up and pat it so it’s plump.
It’s no disaster now or ever.
It’s on the mantelpiece or on the dump.

It might have hurt once but now it’s harmless
when packed like that by one who knows to pack.
It’s no disaster now or ever.
It either flies away or it comes back.

It did explode but then it got flushed out.
It was humiliation, now it’s grace.
It’s no disaster now or ever.
It’s just another expression on a face.

The way it happened isn’t the way it happens
not now it’s happened. That’s the way it goes.
It’s no disaster now or ever.
It’s over now and done with. Matter closed.




‘The Future of Nostalgia’


The future of nostalgia was resolved.
We’d had enough of it. No more dreaming
of grandad’s underpants or mother’s bra.
It was the end, there was nothing worth redeeming.

This was Chimerica where everything was trade
and free as air, the air of yesterday.
Nostalgia was the present remembering itself.
The present was past and wouldn’t go away.

Lord, let us live in a shower of cheap light.
Let’s trade our bodies as once we traded fur.
Let us be lost in streets without a map.
Let’s be ourselves by being who they were.





Black Butterflies in Yangshuo


shreds of burning cloth,
smuts, flakes of soot, a black flap
studded with medals


if you are the ghosts
of the river, the river
must be in mourning


sinister as bats
in a movie, you reveal
nothing, hide nothing


the jewels you wear
on your black wings shimmer
before you settle


troubadors of night
where are your instruments. your
inaudible songs?


see the hibiscus
thick with black hordes. is it death
that you are bringing?


such variations
on one simple theme of black,
spots and striations


could you be the soul
torn loose of flesh, set to dance
to no clear purpose?


wholly enviable
condition to be alight
without pain or grief


a grand finale
of black butterflies, the rain
jewelled, falling.



George Szirtes

Tags: George Szirtes, poetry