ADVICE TO A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

 

There are always ways of avoiding prosecution

for instance if you’re suffering from something akin to melancholia

or ― ideally ― you write paranoid verses such as

«Soldiers have eyes to see with»

or «Sergeant, I’m colour blind; I see the target as my heart».

There’s ways.

But if you’re now certain in your mind that through bribery

you’re paying for another to have his own way

collect from every corner what remains of your despair

and steady

and composed

as a prompter

go whisper the words that need be enounced

by prosecutors and court-martial officers.

 

When in jail don’t count the days.

As you observe the forecourt narrow bit by bit

it’s best for you to shorten your own stride.

Best also you should make light of reports.

Ceremonies, party turncoats and elections

probably have as much effect on the passage of time

as the evening sea breeze

on coal miners lamps.

Then again if you can’t go on living without hope

build your dreams upon earthquakes,

These ― everything’s possible ― may grant you

the lovely journey

of a transportation.      

 

 

`

*

 

AND YET THEY KILLED HIM…

 

He wanted to live

as much as we did

 

― and yet they killed him.

 

He had a smile

as I have when I turn the corner

and see light

at your window

 

― and yet they killed him.

 

He was able to accept the fact that we would forget him

as one forgets a stone holding up one’s house

 

― and yet they killed him.

 

 

 `

*

THE ARMS

 

The arms of men just before they die

Are almost like marble, almost foreign.

If you were not by me

I would have started chiselling their hard fingers.

Now I’ll stay close to them

Like a dog that licks the palm of a hand.

I’ll stay here for my warmth to open

Their sealed lips

So that they can tell

How much they fear, how much they have repented.

 

 

 `

*

IN MEMORIAM

 

Your slain eyes like two ink drops

Spread out and darkened

My entire sky.

People are afraid to light the lamps

They are afraid to hold their hands against the sun

Lest they should see your blood

Flowing between their fingers.

 

 `

*

DRAFT FOR A STORY

 

One day you must write about that blue-eyed boy

On his face the soot and rust of ports.

Mention

That he was taken by chance, that he renounced nothing.

That later in that piece of sky lined like an exercise book

He read and studied

results and causes.

All this without psychology, based on facts and exchange of views

alone, without leaving anything out.

From the time he stretched a hand to steal a cigarette,

And touching the packet he felt he had dipped his hands

in his mate’s freshly-operated insides,

Up to the very last moment

When he managed to scribble down

His final lesson:

«Mother,

don’t cry.

Tomorrow you’ll lose your child

But you’ll have gained

his name.»

`

*

 

THE ILLICIT NOTE

 

We are fractured,

and time is against us.

We prick our ears to hear the latest news,

and they are snatched from us, heavily wounded,

on makeshift stretchers.

We make an effort to count the stars,

and they fall on the pavements like drawing pins, upside down.

With a small fracture

I persevere and drive on through the mud,

uprooting my every step like a hollow tooth.

I raise the people’s chins

and make a quick note

of the light left in their sockets,

then I hide the note

in my heart

so that at the autopsy they’ll see

how very little we lived.