Derek Walcott cribbed

Volcano – Derek Walcott

Joyce was afraid of thunder
but lions roared at his funeral
from the Zurich zoo.
Was it Trieste or Zurich?
No matter. These are legends, as much
as the death of Joyce is a legend,
or the strong rumour that Conrad
is dead, and that Victory is ironic.
On the edge of the night-horizon
from this beach house on the cliffs
there are now, till dawn,
two glares from the miles-out-
at-sea derricks; they are like
the glow of the cigar
and the glow of the volcano
at Victory‘s end.
One could abandon writing
for the slow-burning signals
of the great, to be, instead,
their ideal reader, ruminative,
voracious, making the love of masterpieces
superior to attempting
to repeat or outdo them,
and be the greatest reader in the world.
At least it requires awe,
which has been lost to our time;
so many people have seen everything,
so many people can predict,
so many refuse to enter the silence
of victory, the indolence
that burns at the core,
so many are no more than
erect ash, like the cigar,
so many take thunder for granted.
How common is the lightning,
how lost the leviathans
we no longer look for!
There were giants in those days.
In those days they made good cigars.
I must read more carefully.

(from Sea Grapes, 1976)

 

My crib, “Lighthouse”

Mingus feared driving over dogs
and died beneath the underdog
in was it New York or L.A.?
Doesn’t matter. Legends,
as he dead now is a legend
or the vicious one Hendrix
he dead, and that the ‘Star-spangled
Banner’
was distorted, and they American.
Here in Cape Town, city confused
between summer and cloud,
it’ll be me and Mingus, till dawn
but only him glaring
like a lighthouse
whose rhythm is come and gone
like ‘Fables of Faubus’.
One wishes to fuck this ill
urge, this crippling, crippled writing
for the slow ache and rage
of these the great, to be forever
the ideal listener, seduced,
consuming and being consumed,
taken by the swirl of rage,
understanding that rage
rather than trying to repeat
and express and exceed that rage,
and be the greatest comrade in the world.
At least it requires fucking awe,
which has been lost to our time;
so many people have heard everything,
so many can predict and dance
to the jingles of the nation
and refuse to enter the silence
of racial rage, the slow ache
that burns at the core,
so many are no more than
ad copy for beer.
So many take driving for granted.
How common is death.
How lost is Mudjaji
whom we no longer look for!
Yes, there were giants in those days.
In those days, in those days.
I must listen to more Mingus.

(ca. 2005)

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