Spring 2011

Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 1

Poetry    Translations    Fiction

Martyn Crucefix

La Bastide-de-Bousignac

from the new world

Apart from the details that will entertain
the church I slept beside was of little note

with its mediocre ring of bells arranged
unenclosed in a high triangle of stone

that was hardly a tower not really a spire
a teetering childish pyramid of bells

wide open to the elements east and west
high above a French church in the Ariege

that to my surprise rang a tune from a Czech
émigré composer who noted it down

while he was staying in Spillville USA
though I think not an original tune

rather ‘collected’ from the folk traditions
of a nation that troubled and excited him

till years later the same melody sounds
as I listen to the local kickabout adjourn

and two things rise unwanted to my mind
the first is rather grand having something

to say about the resilience of art
how if it is really fine it is able to root

in any alien soil though the second thought
is more a counter-strike and for that

I prefer it as I recall how this same man
moved to St Paul and was so impressed

as many are by the Minneapolis Falls
that notes rose in his head as natural

as urgent as readying birds on a wire
soon to be elsewhere but notes that asked

immediate action so he scrawled them down
on his starched cuffs as he sometimes did

and the hired maid earned herself a place
(if only to prove the passingness of things)

when he realised she’d scrubbed his shirt
quite clean O what melodies forever lost

in a moment of proletarian cussing
the unclean habits of foreign travelling men

Morning song

Between the cast-iron crash of the shutter’s closing
and the sun’s first shaft through its ill-fitting gaps
I learned life and death with the paramilitaries
I drilled as per instructions a black-gloved thumb
to fit snug in the black felt recess of the barrel
of an old-fashioned rifle later it was the need
for flat shoes when racing to the operating room
as it’s true no ambitious doctor worth her salt
arrives in heels these days so I learned life and death
between the cast-iron crash of the shutter’s closing
and the sun’s feeble shafts through its ill-fitting gaps

© Martyn Crucefix

Poetry    Translations    Fiction

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