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A Chide's Alphabet
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CANDICE WARD AND TREVOR JOYCE



CANDICE WARD


She Is Thinking of the Ghost

Gauguin's woodcut puts her a notch
below hallejulah, enjoined by no
hosannas to his urnfield choirs yet
still under a cloud, which palms
its silver over the lay of the land.

He thinks she may be damned
on her face, turned a chapter averse
to her stone closed book. His primus
tonus enchants us no less.

How strait this coat, his thought
the night, bootless to bring her
thing to light - starry decisive,
not taxed- untoward.


Animals of the Polis: The Island Years

dry    forgot blue again    the hum the ho
never too hot    maybe every other one
not the wait but the rock

the Prophecy

A Greek sailing by in a jollyboat
Pitstops to desecrate the shrine
His foot to be fanged by the guardian snake
His comrades to leave him behind
The jollyboat to be a lot jollier after that


so far so good this island provisions
the wonder is the why of physis
a goddess enshrined to naturalize

well blew all her seedy hours dint she
bound to be ruins where there's smithereens
just too moused off the beaten clock
they say    her snake wants signs
splashy like gold enshowers

oh to put the bite on the Greek
him so hot to foot the hoplite
fantastic (and a fat lot of good
now his little bow & arrow)

help he goes ship    ow
times ten (years)

tell you what    let's let Herakles
do the agonize    him with the wound
this the bow that    not to mention
one anachron Bunny any too soon

best get on top of this now
got to go to Troy you know
to get to Paris


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TREVOR JOYCE

A Father of the Useful Arts (1738)


Vaucanson with fine skill constructs
a virtuoso on the transverse flute
that dines on powder rouge and oil
and grinds sweet music out

The master then takes cogs and struts
conjures him up a duck
that flaps its wings eats alien corn
then shits its bona fide turds


Dánta Grádha 18
(worked from the Irish)

She is my love
was most my misery

preferred for wasting me
to her could cure

She is my fair
would fast enfeeble me
not whisper for my going oh!
or mind my grave

She is my dear
nature's accessory
wouldn't reach a hand to hold my head
lay me for gold

She is my why
drops not a hint to me
heeds no true word
spares no regard

Great is my grief
too long this lingering
who most suspects me
is all my love


Watch

(worked from an Hungarian folksong)

who owns should take stock
the clock is past ten
attend fire and water
or suffer the loss

let who owns be aware
that eleven is gone
that nobody knows
how the axe joints the life
now some are past caring

the small hours surround us
we have lived a day more
the small hours surround us

the clock has struck two
for the jilt and the lover
the god and the creature
the beast and the butcher
the clock minds the shortfall


Without Asylum
for Angela


true we may surmise
how a knife hatched
out of meat
should fledge

span with blade
then unexpectedly
take flight onto some sill
moult there with clutch

of fist falling from it
arm with balance
of muscles altering
to lift and lay

its murderous
intent and disturbed
dreams and brood
how everything broken

so they say points
to the unbroken
forgetful is it of what did
the breaking as I witness

my own loathing
and desire walk
through the dreaming
labyrinth of my child

while detailed depositions state
how further on
within the wood
whose skew bent

registers which wind
prevails itself perpetually
ragged and worn
from ocean breath

and sun and every flame
it quenched in its far
fetch the bright axe
blossom suddenly

the long bones lever
up from it like anthers
and beyond the startling
calyx of teeth

an avid buzzing perishable
fruit set thicken
and disintegrate
to load with sweet

secure deposits
of afflicting gold
their remote cells
and stipulate eventual

shelter from the fall
asylum from the edge
a luminous domain
unbounded

seldom they relate
why the innocent whose mouth
is like a bowl of blood
blurts words already

darkened with gods
and sacrifices how
I have the face of those
whose faces have rotted

and although whirring blades
have been observed
to crystallize spontaneously

throughout the native

rock and ramify
in gangs and casual crews
good companies exfoliate
pervasive and exotic dust

where tellers and their firm
controllers fight to reconcile
accounts and sound
is severed from the dogs throat

there is no further testimony
to the effect how in this
realm of agents deeds
and instruments

one sees at last displayed
an armoured beast whose
head a growth of flame
in the shadow of the ripening

clocks the river sames
destroys itself the jug
absconds leaving to the grasp
only a sustained bewilderment

like dice spinning


Approach of Bodies Falling in Time of Plague
for Alex Davis

Friction was seen as a contaminant, polluting the beauty of the frictionless world of astronomical bodies.
New Scientist, 22 Aug '98


through the shuttered chamber meagre lightfall
as the medium of exchange we must defend

full swift it slipped out of its golden bed
lest base should flood good tender ebb
split at the wedge warm beam from cool
their fibrous intertwinings withered off

fresh days lie cured in silver salts
he himself absorbed missed the dark bands rule
the established causeways meet their ends
shun touch and heft to weld a world

where toys whirl just by other toys perturbed
pecunia non olet cash can't vet
the spectral stars and how this incoherent chronicle
remote and lasting through reiterate dawns

holds nothing lofty nothing fell

***

through the shuttered chamber meagre lightfall
their fibrous intertwinings withered off
fresh days lie cured in silver salts
remote and lasting through reiterate dawns

*

through the shuttered chamber meagre lightfall
split at the wedge warm beam from cool
he himself absorbed missed the dark bands rule
the spectral stars and how this incoherent chronicle
holds nothing lofty nothing fell

*

as the medium of exchange we must defend
lest base should flood good tender ebb
the established causeways meet their ends
pecunia non olet cash can't vet
holds nothing lofty nothing fell

*

as the medium of exchange we must defend
full swift it slipped out of its golden bed
shun touch and heft to weld a world
where toys whirl just by other toys perturbed




Proceeds of a Black Swap

this morning we saw blood on the floor
of all the major exchanges

here fire displays its worst intensities
we entered into certain of them found us embarrassed
discovering some factor in the difficult atmosphere
as deeds grow vague remembrance falls from vogue

redress turns myth and cruentation a lost hope
made weep again the irregular
when it came our turn for we too have had our losses
where growing fields still answer to good names

to fix obliterate possess and cleanse
often been broke then perforce broke odd eggs to feed ourselves
dark maps that underfoot have grown familiar
the least upset is not to recollect their dole

they mopped up quick could our strong agents err?

***

this morning we saw blood on the floor
as deeds grow vague remembrance falls from vogue
redress turns myth and cruentation a lost hope
the least upset is not to recollect their dole

*

this morning we saw blood on the floor
discovering some factor in the difficult atmosphere
made weep again the irregular
dark maps that underfoot have grown familiar
they mopped up quick could our strong agents err?

*

of all the major exchanges
we entered into certain of them found us embarrassed
when it came our turn for we too have had our losses
often been broke then perforce broke odd eggs to feed ourselves
they mopped up quick could our strong agents err?

*

of all the major exchanges
here fire displays its worst intensities
where growing fields still answer to good names
to fix obliterate possess and cleanse


behaviour self!
"special scraps of paper" (Tom Raworth, Emptily)

i don't mean idle dukes or greedy merchant-princes
but ice does not bruise the water

water scald the ice
that would run contrary to nature
consider then the double-entry account
my small adulterating shopkeeper i mean you!

if inordinate or insatiate longing esp. for wealth
is not merely objective and rational and public
we observe here our own artifice
like bends to like unkind to kin without

any little bit of change at all sir
indistinct as water is in water
this rack of balances transparent to a fault
whether secured in the going concern or as static inventory

be divided up and decomposed in discrete actions
still has no emotional meaning
yet a manscape of a hundred thousand souls is a moving spectacle

subject to the principle of the persistence of retinal impressions
and all the news we're fed is stale
and will itself come to a rotting stand
or that gilded puddle beasts would cough at

then it is like seeing a gorgeously wrought ice-castle
where lower forms mutate and thrive
remote infinities instead serve us for spectacles
perceived by the eye as a perfectly continuous movement

their intermittent blackness overlooked
dark singularities eternal cold time folded in an instants flame
blue beads combs knives hawks bells and fish hooks
the thing is so cold so utterly pure

else have i just drawn nearer my own death
the things that they come out with!

***



i don't mean idle dukes or greedy merchant-princes
my small adulterating shopkeeper i mean you!
if inordinate or insatiate longing esp. for wealth
whether secured in the going concern or as static inventory
be divided up and decomposed in discrete actions
or that gilded puddle beasts would cough at
then it is like seeing a gorgeously wrought ice-castle
the thing is so cold so utterly pure
else have i just drawn nearer my own death

*

i don't mean idle dukes or greedy merchant-princes
consider then the double-entry account
is not merely objective and rational and public
this rack of balances transparent to a fault
still has no emotional meaning
and all the news we're fed is stale
remote infinities instead serve us for spectacles
dark singularities eternal cold time folded in an instants flame
the things that they come out with!

*

but ice does not bruise the water
that would run contrary to nature
we observe here our own artifice
indistinct as water is in water
still has no emotional meaning
and will itself come to a rotting stand
where lower forms mutate and thrive
blue beads combs knives hawks bells and fish hooks
else have i just drawn nearer my own death

*

but ice does not bruise the water
water scald the ice
like bends to like unkind to kin without
any little bit of change at all sir
yet a manscape of a hundred thousand souls is a moving spectacle
subject to the principle of the persistence of retinal impressions
perceived by the eye as a perfectly continuous movement
their intermittent blackness overlooked
the things that they come out with!


Some Notes
The final three pieces are constructed lattice-wise, their lines to be read in two distinct orders.Both are given here.
Approach and Proceeds are each structured like a sigma, S, while the final poem is roughly in the form of the mathematicians' symbol for infinity .Approach of Bodies Falling in Time of Plague: Newton's most productive period, during which he arrived at many of his major discoveries concerning gravity and the composite nature of natural light,coincided with a severe outbreak of the plague. In his later years he was appointed Master of the Royal Mint. Gresham's Law in economics states that "bad money drives out good". The tag "pecunia non olet"asserts that "money doesn't stink", thereby suggesting that, whatever its history, it comes clean to each new transaction.
Proceeds of a Black Swap: This term is defined in P.W.Joyce's English as we Speak it in Ireland:"when two fellows have two wretched articles such as two old penknives each thinking his own to be the worst in the universe, they sometimes agree for the pure humour of the thing to make a black swop, i.e. to swop without first looking at the articles.When they are looked at after the swop, there is always great fun."
behaviour self!: This was written for inclusion in A Book for Tom Raworth, to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. While most of the lines are drawn either from Walter Benjamin's Arcades project, or from citations in the OED, "still has no emotional meaning", the line which stands at the central bridge of the infinity-sign, is, like the epigraph, taken from Emptily.



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A Chide's Alphabet Issue 1 May 2001


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