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Extracts from Simon Jenner's About Bloody Time


19, Keere Street

My father terrified a poltergeist.
Balancing round the stairwell in 1953
to the crash of phantom bone china
at the spirit level of the bedroom window,
as the blanched bedsheets shot off my uncle,
to the Apocalypse cry of visitors:

'Fuck off!' - my father flung his tin limb
a wrenched off phantom duralmin
(bearing perished Durex, smuggled
through to Dublin’s ban of them
for all the medics of the Meath;
my months off, broke off, gossamer conceiving)
pewter to neuter and back again
came silence, the laid out terror.

Poor ghost, imagining things to come
descendants dismembering their future?

And now he's dead, appears to my cousin,
and both my legs plant a solid standing,
spawned from his phantom cancelled limb -
Fuck off to a future tense of ghosts
to frighten our cupboards out of skeletons,
to know the mineral cry of ghosts
can only empty or fill a room.


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The Hölderlin Revival, 1942

Your mother thumbed him in the Augsburg blitz - 
a white National Edition of 1942;
my father, teaching sutures to the SAS
in the translated blast victims of London,
via Gascoyne's Hölderlin's Madness,
draughting Fairey planes, Fireflies with rockets.

Inscription's the last variant
we make on the dead, brief candle of readers
when versions fan to this surreal intent -
Gascoyne's Englishing for my father's kultur,
your mother's reading it between the clouds
of Patriot Poet, bomber's drone voices.

Some European moment - forced to diverge
beyond language, volume, reader, the poem
breathes only incandescent lassitude.
Our parents read him along degrees
of latitude and hatred, along
the lumbering healing of the Berlin

Airlift. But their browsing was all fire,
Hölderlin the only flight to after.
That the poem's angle of attack for vision
might refract each book-steeped interpreter
back a cleaner pain; its vectors less fragile than
its written-down weathervanes on Hölderlin's spires.

The originals were firebombed in tiny guide propellers;
smaller than the test-flights my father limned,
more sized like V1s, V2s missing him
by the same yards that spared your mother fire
and the chance diaspora of love and culture.
This copy's  foxed all Farenheidt and propaganda.

But nothing deflects its escape velocity
to the way each ur-text gains a flight path, a co-efficient
altitude to living only; but an arc to the dying
or survivors, English, German, in dawn steeped rain
this slantwise gift from the night flares of the dead
to readers touched by the surprise of their deaths.

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Violins dipped in lime Cremona water
crystallised their varnish to pierce all walls
the city's strange depositories striate a singing tone -
potassium purpling centuries of wood passagework.

There's no classical Achilles' tendon strung.
These Catholic craftsmen were dyed to their wrists
and rendered their own calloused hands immortal.
Even when the pine-encalcined chemistries fade

And late Amati spins a longer decaying action
the slow burn sycamore that raised its maker's pitch -
like an appetite for parched song, to render Achilles
from voice to voice with all the crumbled parchment gone -

works its trace elemental homeopathy in a name.
That it needs just this pinch of iron incising
limewood, not stripping the centuries or cities
to keep the uninvented languages going.


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