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Kenneth Allott

Ragnarok

Our Trojan world is polarised to mourn;
To dream and find a black spot on the sun,
And wake to love and find our lover gone.

The destination of any weapon is grief.
In homesteads now where joy must seem naive
Under a splitting sky our women conceive.

The towns of houses, massed security
Out-generalled by a later century,
Are hearse-plumes on an old economy.

The ache of crushed walls when the raid is over.
This is a house, we said, we have built forever:
A two-backed fool, thinking of one day's weather.

Only one monster has to love his error.
Only his wrangling heart cannot recover,
But glories in illusion when half cadaver;

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The Statue

I take you looking at the statue
the smile is yours and the stone is you
the stone is simple and the smile is playful
the smile is stolen and the stone is fallen
I ask you to stand and smile like that until
thinking you stone, time has forgotten you.
They say but really I forget

however picturesque
however figurative
whether so often and so quizzical
whoever it was crying in another voice ...
Let us sit like tailors. At least 1 am sure of this:
man or woman or beast I recall no face.

The night is kind so please to bend your arm
hide your head in the hollow of your arm
nobody will take you unawares, nobody
and nobody will take you unprepared
for time it is now to step out of time

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Aunt Sally Speaks

Who have been educated out of naive responses,
The hoodoo of love, the cinderella of class
Knowing that everywhere man has the same clock face,
the same moody defences

Against age and the loss of love in the hope of millennimums
Who think too much perhaps of elegance
Or the form of wisdom, having outgrown dreams
Like baby clothes a long while since;

Wiseacres playing with terrible dolls in the twilight
holding our sides, thinking of mad Loyola
Or that bald maker of roads, the much stabbed Caesar
Till the stars are bright;

Who cannot live in the Very Lights of the headlines
Or forget the unrehearsed summer of the shires
Because Europe is frightened, quakes like a woman,
Looks wildly behind?

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Offering

I offer you my forests and my street-cries
With hands of double-patience under the clock,
The antiseptic arguments and lies
Uttered before the flood, the submerged rock.
The sack of meal pierced by the handsome fencer,
The flowers dying for a great adventure.

I offer you the mysterious parable,
The mount of reason, the hero's glassy hymn,
The disquieting uproar of the obvious
Hate in the taproom, murder in the barn
The long experienced finger of the Gulf Stream,
The flying sense of glory in a failure's dream.

I offer you the bubble of free will,
The rarefied agony of forgotten places,
The green cadaver stirring to the moon's pull,
The cheerful butchery of raw amateur faces
Which, like the half-blind nags shipped off for food
Die, doubtless serving some higher good.

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