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Authors: Ian Pindar

Emporium

BOOK: Emporium
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IAN PINDAR

Emporium

   

   

   

for Ali

   

My awful seventies
name, you sd
(mine too) but
no

   

From alle wimmen my love is lent,
And light on Alisoun

   

                                                                   Anonymous
                                                                  
circa
1300

 

Levedy, al for thine sake

  

   

   

   

Armed with certain relics, I began to assemble an emporium where nothing in it would be for sale – a shop that would never open.

   

M
ALCOLM
M
C
L
AREN 

The author gratefully acknowledges the following publications in which poems in
Emporium
first appeared, sometimes in slightly different form:
The London Magazine, Magma, New Poetries III
(Carcanet Press),
Oxford Poetry, PN Review, Poetry Review, Stand
and the
Times Literary Supplement
. Thanks are also due to Michael Schmidt, Judith Willson and all at Carcanet for their support. Invaluable advice was offered by John Crowfoot regarding ‘Birds’, and Dana Pšenicová at the Czech Embassy in London helped me with ‘Mrs Beltinska in the Bath’, which won second prize in the 2009 National Poetry Competition and was shortlisted for the 2010 Forward Prize (Best Single Poem).

CONTENTS

Title Page

Dedication

Epigraph

Figure Study

Mrs Beltinska in the Bath

On the French Riviera

Monsters of Philosophy

A Dog One Afternoon

Society of Blood

Anecdote of the Car

Marc Chagall:
The Poet Reclining

Parable

Advice for Travellers

Poem

What is the Matter?

Archaeologies

Snow

The King’s Evil

Les Vacances de Monsieur P.

Chain Letter

Of Truth

Suggestions for Further Reading

Two Figs

The Prophecies

Casanova

Cārvāka/Lokāyata

Windows

Gods of the Near Future

After Birth

Big Bumperton on the Sabbath

Ashes

Death of a Senator

Birds

Illustrated Evenings

Parasite

Joan Miró:
Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement

It Takes a Man

Everybody’s Talking about Antonin Artaud

The Wasp and the Orchid

Armageddon

Black Jelly Baby

Kissing

Dust

Loon

Silent Spectres

The Rainy Day Murders

An Accident in Soho

Lost

Insomnia

Time Remaining

  

Notes

About the Author

Copyright

Emporium

Naked on a bed, the sex in shadow,

not caring if man or woman. 

Something of the caged beast, captive, fallow,

odour of unclean linen. 

Darkness beyond everything.

Nothing visible except 

limbs turning, seeking rest,

arms and legs bending, unbending 

like a puppet examining its joints.

The head moving from side to side 

as if struck by invisible fists

from different angles, from inside. 

Pavel in profile

his eye at the spyhole

watches Mrs Beltinska in the bath. 

Steam from the spyhole

rises and unravels in the dark

cold apartment at his back, 

where a TV with the sound down

shows the River Vltava

bursting its banks. 

And as Prague’s metro floods

and the Malá Strana floods

and the Waldstein Palace floods 

and the National Theatre floods

and the Kampa Modern Art Museum floods,

Mrs Beltinska sinks her treasures in the suds. 

The first Czech bible (1488) is drowned

in sewage water, but the warm orange glow

from Mrs Beltinska’s bathroom 

coming through the spyhole

gives an odd kind of halo

to Pavel’s head seen from behind. 

Youth and beauty have left me

    a full packet of cigarettes

and this balcony. Time redecorates

    my home as a reliquary.

The camera loved me once,

    as everyone loves a young woman

of spirit who toys with men

    and uses her natural elegance

to get what she wants. Siren

    or ingénue, whatever they asked of me

I exuded ‘a carefree, naive sexuality’,

    the critics said. Dominique, is that Dorian

at the door? My official biographer

    promised to swing by after church

with more questions. He isn’t much

    to look at, but he’s my last admirer.

MONSTERS OF PHILOSOPHY

There are monsters on the prowl whose form changes with the history of knowledge.

M
ICHEL
F
OUCAULT

Scepticism is insincere

    If not maintained in daily life,

Professor Aromax concludes

    While murdering his second wife.

Ideas, we are told by James,

    Are true if they are profitable.

Professor Bidex keeps a shrunken

    Head upon her coffee table.

Professor MacIntyre expounds

    At length upon his idées fixes,

But hastily departs if any

    Student wears a crucifix.

Professor Pyke is much the same

    And has no tolerance for God.

His last dispute resulted in

    A bloody carcass in the quad.

The students of Professor Stead

    Know better than to mock his stammer.

The last to do so had his head

    Caved in by someone with a hammer. 

Professor Mallard has a coat

    Of thick and matted body hair,

But only when the moon is full,

    At other times it isn’t there.

Professor Gant, a revenant,

    Who rarely ever takes the stairs,

Prefers to glide from room to room,

    Catching students unawares.

And still the ghost of Francis Bacon

    Haunts the winding stair below,

Doomed for a certain term to stuff

    A chicken carcass full of snow.

I

        In a nearby exhibition hall

Mr Ponsonby-Smythe demonstrates his new machine

for winning back the Empire – there is blood

        all over his doeskin pantaloons.

        In a pagoda surrounded by bamboo

Miss Grace Laluah serves coconut milk,

        bananas with honey and tropical fruits …

        But who is that girl in the wicker chair,

her arm amputated at the elbow?

        Her copper hair and small breasts delight me:

the standard lamp, the single bed, the curtained window.

        She looks

                                 sad

                                 anaemic

                                 telegenic.

        Her skin smells of pepper.

II

                 Alienated again.

                 In the doghouse.

                 I am a dog and I don’t even like dogs

                 (I’m a dog and I don’t even like them).

Skulking through the streets like a dog.

Licking old wounds like a dog.

                 Something’s missing.

                 Have you forgotten

                 anything?

None of this was made for your

                  entertainment.

                  (So tired, so tired.

                  Work tomorrow …)

First there was sleep, then waking

                  then making do, then sleep.

                  And when night falls

                  and the will fails,

                  when the will fails

                  and night falls,

                  all the poisons within me,

all the poisons in which I am mired

                  accumulate in the marrow.

They will be smiling as they did of old,

keeping tradition in the blood

and blood in the soil.

           Men of action, irrational,

suspicious of intellect: all dissent

is betrayal and betrayal death.

           Fear difference: the enemy

within. If you are weak

you will die, as Nature intended.

           And the people perish,

reeling, staggering towards

a ring of light on the horizon.

I drove a car to Chambourcy

And left it there, without a thought.

It hurt the owner of that car

To think of it.

The kindly Camboriciens

Prayed for its soul at St Clothilde.

The car was bound to play them false

It was a wicked, wilful car.

Its classic parts, so very rare,

Were polished there with tender care.

Its engine all of burnished gold

It did not care for man or God.

MARC CHAGALL
THE POET RECLINING

Time was when the poet lay in a green field.

E
ZRA
P
OUND

O I once met a poet reclining

For a pillow he had but a coat

And I saw his green halo a-shining

Green halo, green halo, he wrote.

             
Green halo

            
Green halo

Alone at last in the country

With a pig and a horse in a field

With pine trees and woods all around me

My heart at last shall be healed.

            
Green halo

            
Green halo

Now I have no farmer’s wisdom

And grow here nary a bean

But the woodland makes me welcome

And the grass my halo green.

            
Green halo

            
Green halo

BOOK: Emporium
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