Monday, 18 October 2010

Three unpublished songs

Three unpublished songs to accompany Ana Maria Pacheco's In Illo Tempore series of paintings.

Burnt Fingers

Your fingers are flames,
your eyes shift like fish in a tank.
No-one plays games
on the way to the grave or the bank

Your fingers get burned
in the act. Your eyes are closed down.
The money you’ve earned
is as fuel to the fire. The fish drown.

You’re blind with a stump
for a hand, it’s the luck of the draw.
All hands to the pump
is the cry, but you can’t buck the law.

You know how it feels
when there’s nothing between you and death?
Nor prayers nor squeals
draw attention so just save your breath.

Save breath if you can,
save your money, save souls or save none.
Burn like a man
while there’s fire till the burning is done.


Body secretes smoke
among fluids and phlegm
you blow out bubbles of air
men choke on them

you blow out bubbles of air
you seep thin lines of grey
fire’s a chemical reaction
seeping away

fire’s a chemical reaction
the smoke an experiment
you yourself are aflame
your body spent

you yourself are aflame
so you must burn and waste
sweet sister, sweet brother, sweet smoke
a bitter taste

sweet sister, sweet brother, sweet smoke
among fluids and phlegm
blow out your bubbles and let
men choke on them.

Rook, Raven, Crow

You can never tell how things will turn out
but accidents come in threes,
strange how you panic with fingers like flames
and baulk at these:

Rook, raven and crow.

All silent, all damned, or all gagged, who can tell?
Who put the damned things there in the first place?
And why do you put on such a show of fright
with a mask on your face

more beak than mask, more carrion than crow?
It’s your bloody aviary. You should know.

Pacheco's sinister, magical figures glimmered through this series of paintings. Lots of fire and smoke. No smoke without fire, of course.

Tomorrow I read with Hugo Williams at The Bicycle Shop, Norwich. Early next morning I fly to Ireland to read in Gort. May be able to post then if only briefly.


David Hill said...

They're published now.

George S said...

Not sure how far this constitutes publication, David. I had left them out of one of my books. There were four more that did appear in the book.

Diane said...

These are stunning. How to print them?

George S said...

Diane, how kind - and on the photo too! You should be able simply to copy and paste into a Word document, just checking afterwards that the transition hasn't scrambled anything.

David Hill said...

Hello George,
I guess different people would say different things on that topic. The way I see it, if they'd never gone further than your notebook, your bottom drawer, a private email or letter, a writers' group or creative writing class, then they would be unpublished. Once they have made it to somewhere that can be accessed by random members of the public - whether in print or online - then they are published. They are out there in the public domain, can be quoted from, etc.
That doesn't mean it's not worth distinguishing between self-publishing and being published by someone else, or between whether or not the author got paid. But those distinctions might be more significant to the author than to the reading public...