Memoriam Walter Benjamin
the dusk infiltrated
steering shadow onto baking rock.
The effect of the pills began to wear off.
Sprawled at the edge of a clearing, a man
one foot propped on a twisted root
sucking in the cooler air that now
worried heat’s marauding butchers, the flies.
His will in spasm seen by every watcher,
prey thrashing in camouflaged wire
every fresh resolution tightening the noose.
Let them burst from the bushes now
and seize his futile human form,
his momentary hindrance in the plan,
the dirt count down in which
his berry-stained fingers dragged.
One on each side of Joseph K.
Kleist in his carriage hurrying away.
Cicadas gnawing at inexorable depths,
where death held to his bony chest
yet another comfortable hand.
How had it found a way back?
His position, language had not strengthened.
Poetry could not be distinguished
in the gallows crowd that thronged now,
whooping up the mountain paths.
Owls solemnly lowered their ash capes.
He waved them away and recognised
his voice, a bell
that announced a leper in the valley.
Quite alone now and the only reply
the archive answers of silence.
hands reaching down,
the first interested scouts of the sun.
Stirring, heaving himself onto one side,
he drew the bent spectacles to his face,
a clinging worm magnified against his eye
hailing him through the glass.
Already warm and pungent the briefcase
sought its mule, the fully laden, the broken
impaled on history’s phosphorescent shrapnel.
He sat up ablaze and shielding his gaze, rose
to formally greet his relieved companions.
you see the old moon waiting,
a tired gull tethered to the harrow
above the dawn reluctant field.
Do you see the rabid activists,
book brandishers, men of power
burning crude effigies for the crowd
and how even this evil is absorbed
by the eye blink of a deer in a glade?
Do you see the unblemished children
prodding the ditch with sticks?
They are finding out what it feels
to sink down an escalator in the mall
into the cutlasses of neon,
the vacancy encrusted men and women,
finery of the pit where coinage entrails
spill themselves unashamed.
Do you see this and weep for another age
which is only a mocking fantasy,
a tail pinned on the donkey,
a desperate raking of coals, brief glow,
piano played by the tramp’s filthy nails,
or another rower whipped aboard
your heart’s slow slave ship.
Feel the prow dip and drink,
only momentum and more funerals,
the warmth of child and mother
slipping away into jaundiced snow.
Will Stone was born in 1966, and lives on the Suffolk coast. His natural
habitat is coastal ledge, moor, churchyard and tower. He is a frequent
resident at translation centres in France and Belgium, and he has
published versions of Nerval's Les Chimères, a selected
Trakl To the Silenced, and a co-translation of Rodenbach's
Bruges la Morte. He is currently at work on the poems of
Rodenbach and Verhaeren, and the first English version of Stefan Zweig's
travel writings. His first full collection of original poetry, Glaciation,
was published by Salt Editions in 2007.
Will Stone is the lycanthrope of contemporary poetry, a haunter of
the haunted, at loose in the European necropolis. He is drawn to the
darker edge of genius, attuned to the shades of Kleist and Trakl,
of Rodenbach and Verhaeren, and to the landscapes they have evolved
in their image. Transfixed by moments of physical and mental dissolution,
he is their elegist and a true initiate in the noble science of melancholy.
Will Stone & GRAAT