Thursday, 9 September 2010

Leading a Charred Life - text and voice

On the move today - lunch in London about project, PBS Board meeting and reading at 8pm with David Constantinne at Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill - so just briefly. I have been writing this and that in scraps. Here is something commissioned.

Leading A Charred Life: Seven Short Songs
John Latham, Observer IV, 1960

I had thought to have been charmed
Not framed:
Had thought to be disarmed
Not blamed.

But life hangs fire as if suspended
As if it had been slyly ended.

We cannot altogether escape the fact.
The facts are something that can’t be quite escaped.
But something is wrong in both thought and act:
The act is thought, and act and thought are shaped.

Had I behaved better than I did…
Had sky been lighter, detail more compact…
Had escape ever been possible…
Had I but thought, were it still feasible to act…

Someone is raising a hand at a bus stop.
Someone is waving to someone on the other side.
We watch the smile light briefly on a face.
We watch our loved ones make their way through space,
Then space rolling in like a tide,
Entering a bus, a house, a shop.

Sometimes the beauty of wood is overwhelming.
We love that which seems warm yet indifferent.
So things burn down, so wood turns to coal,
So coal begins where trees are rife.
So we survive. We lead a (haha) charred life.

There is the terrible vehicle of darkness
That runs over us in hope.
There is my hand, there are your fingers.
We hang by our fingertips. We cope.

If poetry were just a matter of the air
Playing around the heart
We’d feel a powerful gust beneath our lungs
And call it art -
And art would do, or be, at least, a start.

Visual art as ever intrigues me and begins the foray into words. This will be available at the Tate Modern, complete with sound recording and text.

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