Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Toe of Human Understanding

A trait I admire in poets (and other writers) is the ability to hear the poetry in the speech of people who would probably reach for their guns (metaphorical or literal) if you said they sound poetic. As in this poem by Dilys Rose, from Twinset, her collaboration with Karen Knight, published by Knucker Press (there's a telling illustration by Polly Thelwall, but you'll have to buy the book in order to see that!):


Here's me, out by the courthouse for a fag,
in the wedding suit, tattoos mostly under the cuffs
of the jacket. It's pissing down. Nobody's about. Not even
a piper to nip the heid with Wha Haes and dirges.
My legal rep's off round the corner for a latte
with the Filth. Just me and Maister Enlightenment
up on his plinth, a traffic cone on the brainy conk,
pigeon on the neb, rain dripping from his chin
onto the Spartan—no the neo-Classical gear.
What would any self-respecting empirical philosopher
be thinking, posing in some eighteenth century
town house studio, barefoot, near enough bare-arsed,
kitted out in a low-slung toga? No central heating then:
even in the height of summer, it could have been Baltic.
Psshht. No joy in soggy tobacco. If only the boy
had been here in the flesh to gen me up on how to frame
a foolproof argument, plead my case for the fallibility
of human understanding. But no. Only his likeness
for company, gazing into the middle distance.
I rub his toe, his big green toe—verdigris—and hope
some wisdom will rub off on me. And on my legal rep.
(If he hasn't a clue it follows that I haven't a chance in hell.)
Read about this nonsense in The News. Folk say the toe
of David Hume is wearing thin from all the rubbing.
What would he think about his countryfolk resortimg—still—
to such irrational carry on? Right. Time for the verdict.

No comments: