the black history of England is written in coal, black gleaming
veins deep in the earth, secret stored sun’s fire


England dances
blood on walls
black roses
rolling stones

the hall contained messages, for and against, for and against
macrobiotic food, trotskyism, meditation, drug addiction, clothes
festishism, hell’s angels, art, chaos, life, personal development, cats

the hall contained cats, bikes, old bed-springs, bits of paper,
uncollected letters, rubbish tins, milk bottles, memories of crinolines

descending to the basement, dark stairs leading to a green curtain,
and a door
a wall papered with mars bar wrappings, a dresser like a chinese
altar, intricate, covered with ribbons, odds and ends, fragments of wise
and witty sayings
a lampshade made of plastic disposable beakers
a huge old grate

the loving tyranny of possessions invested with several generations
of reflections, history’s driftwood

feet, boots, coats, scarves, hats, gloves, colours

greasy denim strips to reveal silky skin, golden downy hair,
pockets full of pills

somewhere quiet to listen to the rain
falling outside the broken window pane
fox hole
wishing well
room like a photograph album, a collection of sepia frames, square
and tall, with a tiny floor from which she would leap hearing a ring at
the door, already organising

put on the kettle, where are the papers, I need a cup of tea,
I can’t do anything without one, where are my
coat, shirt, other shirt, blouse, trousers
we have to
fire the irons
hit the clothes
catch the gravy train
visit friends
make the scene shake
like the windows when the trucks roll by

it wasn’t until she discovered that the refrigerator had, along with
the electricity, after a day of earnest and sometimes heated discussion
with the relevant civic and legal authorities, been turned off
that she finally blew her top at the unfairness of it all
receiving someone else’s bill they had decided to resist to the
uttermost. The house contained a still operable gas lamp. They could
hold out forever against the dark

the fog during the power strike was so thick people found their
way home following old ladies striking matches the fog came down with
impenetrable dark those with coal fires blessed them

and when the final Victorian swamp comes down over England,
blotting out the neon lights and the petrol stations with its smoke
blackened fingers, in the holes and wardrobes, hedges and ditches
they will survive

there was once a crone who went into a land of gardens and fields
and coconut palms, a land where ducks organised themselves and
although the people worked hard, it seemed like play, and they had
singing and dancing all night long. On this land the gods smiled and
often came to feast with the people, occasions celebrated with water
and incense and flowers

in the middle of the wood, the crone came upon a white statue,
a lady of great beauty upon whose face was carved an expression of
utter melancholy, as though the whole living world around her of
frogs, insects, animals and birds, had wilfully passed her by

the crone could not do so, if for no other reason than the tragedy
of leaving a living spirit imprisoned amidst a world so teeming with life

she made a fire and danced. She sang incantations. The sun went
down about them in an ecstacy of yellow and rose and the green trees
thickened into the dusk. Smoke rose from cooking fires, and farmers
whistled as they carried their burdens home. Drums and gongs and
flutes serenaded the moon and the stars that appeared like jewels in the
darkening sky

barely a tear appeared in the statue’s perfectly carved eye

one day the crone was concocting new herbal mixtures which she
burned so that smoke went into the statue’s eyes, causing them to blink.
The statue’s expression of profound melancholy sometimes gave way to
one of annoyance

the crone knew that the process of coming back to life would
hurt the statue, and that the lady locked away in that monument would
probably take a strong dislike to the crone who like a gadfly kept
inventing new ways to torment her. Frequently the crone asked herself
why she didn’t stop. Sometimes her words were coarse. But each time
she tried to leave, when she turned and looked back at the lady’s face
she experienced such anguish at the thought of leaving somebody in
that terrible situation, she couldn’t go. She returned and tried again.

one day she became aware that the sky was darkening around her,
and the myriad stars were gradually being extinguished. She looked
down at the grass, and at her own feet which were feathery. One of
them had turned to stone. She looked at the statue upon whose face
despair seemed to blend with triumph. The world of myriad creatures
in which the crone lived and breathed seemed suddenly out of reach.
Loath as she was to do violence to the lady, the impact of that icy
despair upon her own warm and dependent substance made her. She
said ‘Lady, whoever you are in there, I’ve been mucking about in this
clearing long enough. I’m going crazy.’

The statue did not look surprised.

The crone had exhausted her magic and could only pray. She
begged the gods of rice cakes and apples and flutes that some miraculous
visitation of theirs would unlock the miserable lady from the stone
statue and release her as a living creature

in some parts of the earth, people live in a cornucopia of
natural benefits. Life’s rich horn pours forth huge and powerful and
gleaming automobiles, oases of tufted carpets, automatic refrigerators
with cavernous interiors stuffed with foods from every corner of the
earth, perfectly reproducing stereo equipment, skis, snorkels, books,
records, tapes, kidney machines, iron lungs, electricity, water taps,
restaurants, theatres, swimming pools, yachts flying gracefully about
the watery plain

fishful and flowerful
wheatfields and oilwells

whereas on other parts of the earth, the inhabitants are born,
crawl a few feet across the fetid and baking desert and die

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