Under Westminster Bridge, Dead brilliant thing, The man at the bar & Rembrandt
by Leah Fritz
[ poetry - april 05 ]
Under Westminster Bridge
It had been a perfect summer 'weather-wise,'
and still in October late lingering sunshine poured
its warmth on tourists to the London Eye
waiting in spiral queues, as others devoured
pasteboard-tasting burgers at the 'caff'
outside what used to be the GLC,
inside the tawdry lights and noisy blasts
of gambling games, an arcade travesty
not of that Council's fall - just politics,
one bureau cancelling another - but
of the Thames ruffling beneath the bridge
Wordsworth made holy (in the event, now shut
for maintenance). Still, it was beautiful,
a sunlit reprieve, the world out on parole.
Dead, brilliant thing
Logic alone will change no pattern. You
must cut around the fabric of deceit,
replacing each temptation with a new
enticement, trading sweet for sweet.
We see the sun drowsily arise
yet know it is a dead, if brilliant, thing
incapable of consciousness. The lies
our senses tell us have a truthful ring.
Too often men have fought for lies, too often
died for cold, unbreathing things, and even
now in praise of martyrdom sing maudlin
hymns, preferring death to reason.
Outside broad daylight hides a rage in store
for shadows that unmask their metaphor.
The man at the bar
He uses ‘girl’ where ‘woman’ would do wonders,
and wonders why they leave him for the others,
the women in his life, or who would be
except for his transparent misogyny.
The coin of ambivalence falls on its tail;
even his smiles and flirty eyes must fail
to captivate, though words may flow in arcs
of promise like the rainbow. Risque remarks
behind a tittering hand betray his age,
which he does not deny, but still fills page
on page with dusty old anachronisms
dressed up in modern verse, anarchic rhythms
meant to disguise his agenda. He’s clever at it,
like the man at the bar who, hoping to score, will hit
on every woman there. If all refuse -
all but one - what has he got to lose?
Dear God, they want me to write about nothing,
to paint with paint, of paint, by paint, for paint -
and he in his chair with sublimely human face
half-turned to a light no light on earth has seen.
Words have an awkward way of meaning something.
A mindless soul, a soulless mind is what
they want, art to reflect their heartlessness
but give it dignity, and he in Holland,
dead, by all accounts, turning slowly,
pig-on-a-spit, they wonder why nothing's holy.