Thursday, September 5, 2013

A K.J. Bishop Poem

The Crone Meets Her Son (On The Battlefield)

The revolution, this time, was 'to actualise the marvellous'. 
   The gunslinger

enlisted, far from sure of his part, for his weapons fired only
   common lead,

not multicoloured lights or waves of kundalini. But he had,
   in his dreams,

dived to the bottom of the ocean and seen the carcass of a
   whale, with hagfish

at it all around like mad sperm around a dead egg, devouring
   the infertile germ,

and felt his private share of responsibility, like a new organ
   in his body, a harmonica,

maybe. He had always been around the edges, among the
   listeners, tapping a foot,

but if he really was a boar leaping out of the sea, he wanted
   to know that furious joy.

There was no commander as such to give orders, so he found
   a place on the left flank

with the giraffes, and an old woman who had a tray of
   buttons and a thermos

of black coffee, infinitely replenishing, which she shared
   around like a suave host.

With gratitude he drank the unsweet brew in the tin cup and
   remembered how, as a boy,

he'd loved the tubes of buttons in the haberdasher's shop,
   like lasting candy,

kaleidoscopes, or magic money for buying magic things
   from magicians.

Perhaps, he mused, that was where his longtime love of
   finery budded in tulip-stripes.

Looking back, said the woman, it's all ravines and tempests.
   You're cold, have my coat,

he said, stripping down to waistcoat and watch-chain. It's
   bulletproof, and keeps the rain out.

Well, I like rain, but thank you, and here, choose some
   buttons, son. The pearl is smart,

but please yourself. Thank you, ma'am, and in the yellow
   dawn he chose plastic sections of Jupiter

and brass wafers for the charity of the poor, and pearl for the
   whale and the egg,

and fake tortoiseshell for the giraffes, and fuchsia velvet
   domes for sex and love

and loaded them in his old shotgun, and grinned like a fox
   sucking shit through a sieve

because that's how it's done, and he followed the old woman,
   who followed no one,

cocking her leg at every pillar, eating out of garbage cans,
   sniffing bums in trousers,

her jubilant howl assuring him this wasn't desertion at all.


1 comment:

  1. This is one of the most interesting poems I've read for awhile. Ms Bishop writes terrific fiction as well. Her website is Please check it out.