minor manifesto

Kit Kelen

 

vestiunt lanae: mihi parva rura et
spiritum Graiae tenuem Carmenae
Parca non mendax dedit et malignum
            spernere vulgus.

But I am rich too: Fate, an honest patron,
Has given me a small farm, an ear fine-tuned
To the Grecian Muses, and a mind from vulgar
            Envy aloof.
                        – Horace, Odes, II.16

 

1

 

all of the trails brought me now vanish

the gate grows over

…lost to the world

 

then let’s make clear the play position –

I only desire to afford to be poor

I do not pretend that is not to desire

 

here heaven is with me

how else to imagine?

there’s still the odd delivery

the elsewhere seeping like a stain

 

hear the road, that it hums and grumbles

the pigment takes

 

if the lines can come

innocence will shape our soil

 

all that we need is fashioned for us

 

what does a magpie know about rain?

 

 

2

 

read in that light omens suggest

my tenure as fallible as the rest

this is the place to park

 

true, echoes from nowhere

come hammering home

 

the world is a market

no way not to play

 

but the world is many things besides

some of those biting are bit

 

 

3

 

here on my own growing gates

tending fences, commending their collapse

 

shrunk daily in circumference

one should acknowledge mastery

 

among sunfall and foliage

loathed and admired

is it not I who make

the landscape looking?

 

I am the field here

cattle numb in

 

rain is waiting

for thirst to be spoke

taps on my shoulder home

 

 

4

 

dawn again

this last

bright irony of the condemned

 

you see how the light is cast

lacks attention

 

the day grows over

everything done

vanity, vanities

 

out there the wall all window

you walk through it

were meant to

it’s in the bones

 

ramshackle lines

knot me

 

now living in the longed for time

breathing sculpture I am

the weeds pull round

 

 

5

 

all day today

my footsteps after

out of breath

 

sky is a wing

folded out over

the reckless stretch of facts wed to

sore distraction

 

some nights the anaesthetic wears through

you see what you’ve made

weep, laugh

 

 

6

 

gentle at strings and by all airs

 

you dizzying

the gospel of less

none left to preach

 

here goes though

 

best rule

simplest

easiest first

pick the windfall

before tugging

unless of course

limbs want a stretch

 

take out the errant weed alone

and leave the clump till last

 

arms with the barrow as low as they’ll go

 

7

 

I am more in it

by day the passages

and through dream light

 

myself entailed in

absence of action

the big told-you-so

voices in ether

their knowing untold

 

console the self with

what they cannot take

by sword, by fire

 

see how the storm’s hung our antenna

 

and deliver us from mail

as we who pen to paper impose

such willing distillations

a world

 

 

8

 

dive in

the screen is all deeps

 

spit into the vast

no disrespect

 

it’s all assumption I intuit

here beyond the rubbing out

 

what mannered vehemence

 

a breeze sets to paper

day fades the signs

or hollows damp

the pages where they’re hid for good

 

now ways of saying

edge the said

 

obscurity is something built

of accidents, the lucky breaks

 

9

 

I’m shaping the ruins

my own trackless waste

 

let me my work

the guess of chores

to comfort

to the point of fate

 

my own affects

to lounge about

I’ll swim the given sea

 

such wild iconic waves toss off

as mutual in admiration

 

 

10

 

let there be also

lacking effects

passing unnoticed

 

let lack itself

set free

not be my hairshirt

but victory

all of my kind

 

Saint Epicurus, here’s my candle

it gutters, there’s proof enough devotion

 

 

 

11

 

in absentia

hoarding provisions

plots and fictions

 

one vague sadness washes me

the all I ever wanted of childhood

crowds now

matter of fact

 

not remembering what’s to want

even where the ways are lost

 

something sweet for my retinue

the provinces are led away

they as I legion

 

in differences

made little as possible

made to mean

 

 

12

 

sooner or later

they give me a job

 

teaching ahead of myself a road

as if nothing were known

 

o that it might be

 

we took the slow coast

framing tar

 

the long and the short

of all considered

 

forgotten in

a flimsy persistence

that laboured failing of words

where paws

have gone before

 

Christopher (Kit) Kelen is an Australian poet, scholar and visual artist, and Professor of English at the University of Macau, where he has taught Creative Writing and Literature for the last fourteen years. The most recent of Kit Kelen’s dozen English language poetry books is China Years – New and Selected Poems. ‘minor manifesto’ appears in the just out Scavengers Season (Puncher and Wattman).

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