2015-06-05

On the down line

Well we all have to go sometime.

The question of whether we go somewhere is more controversial, but let's suppose we did...

...well it is difficult to imagine, in this overpopulated age, that Charon is still ferrying each of us individually and manually.

So...  this poem sprang fully formed from the Wikipedia quote that forms the epigram.  "Katabasis" is a marvellous word, I can't imagine why I haven't used it in the body of the poem.

What else?  Oh yes, this is yet another poem from the marvellous: Poet's Graves anthology : Making Contact.








On the down line


a descent of some type, 
such as moving downhill,
or the sinking of the winds
or sun,
a military retreat,
or a trip to the underworld
or a trip from the interior of a country
down to the coast.—Wikipedia—"Katabasis"


Would a figure figure in the ending
of the trip? Tired and how archaic,
a gate-warden, perhaps, who spits
half-chewed tobacco,
the spittle flying, off-stage
from the light he has raised
in one arthritic hand
into some outer darkness
to form tiny settlements
of dying, congealing mucus
on a stone so far beyond
mortal concern
that no dust gathers.
And if he had some sort of vehicle,
this warden,
a traditional boat, or perhaps a charabanc
engined in oil and antiquity, and glimmering brass pipes;


if there was such a vehicle
would you take a place
on age-riddled, half-cracked seating? Would you
hesitate at the risk of meeting an old friend
who in later life you came to never like,
or a cleaning woman, freshly slain but not yet
laid out in her beeswax and lavender
encrusted duster? Would you fear the general muster
of folk a touch too keen to chance another world,
having nothing from the last?


Or would you, knowing your place,
take the space between a rapist,
and a collector of second-hand ties;
face forward and grip your expectant ticket so firmly
that your sweat—cold as must be—
will print a ragged patch on the cheap cardboard;
wait for the old man's creaking arm
to pull hard on the handbrake; and wait again
to hear one final, semi-comic honking
from his rubber-bulb horn?

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