Martin Malone – Two Poems

Author Picture 704xMartin Malone was born in County Durham. He lives in Scotland. He has published two poetry collections: The Waiting Hillside (Templar, 2011) and Cur (Shoestring, 2015). An Honorary Research Fellow in Creative Writing at Aberdeen University, he is currently studying for a Ph.d in poetry at Sheffield University. He edits The Interpreter’s House poetry journal.


After Wyndham Lewis

What is it about that Thirties palette?
Those browns, a decade-long autumn endlessly
taking leave of the branch: stoic farewells
on steam-swamped platforms, pensive heads
opaque through café windows; ducking down
to order soup through hatches, fingers like
rheumatic sausages prop sallow faces
bent over the tea cup of thwarted lives.
As if the brush knew what was coming,
as if it hunkers down in the spectrum’s
trench: a reflex wrapped in khaki, nurtured
in mud and want. Of eyes that have witnessed
too much; that have seen the peacock’s head
held under Brown Windsor, shot off above
the parapet of, say, ochre. At the quayside,
dirty hankies wave goodbye to the red
neckerchiefs bound for Aragon, stand back
to let the tanks pass, wave through the ranks
of goose-stepping shirts; yes, those shirts.


Date yourself 2014 and come;
by now it is only language
and low opportunity
calling witness
to provide
the necessary
authenticating element:
a scrawled
utter of utterness,
trench honesties
occluded by one century
and the paradigms of myth.

Even then, you had to lie.
With the advantage
of immediacy,
small wonder
the shires were sad,
small wonder
the corpse-constructed line
found its pitiful page.
What they said of it
became what it is,
though the terms to describe it
do not exist.

So come,
let us sit and reconstruct;
the glass on the table
historian enough
to catch their words
and stop this rain,
to stop this rain,
to stop this rain.



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