POETRY READING - D. M. Thomas Poems


Poems » d. m. thomas » poetry reading

Almost too diffident to choose,
His hand skims his slim paperbacks;
Matronly arses in tight slacks
And grey men trying to look sage,
A dozen scattered round the hall,
Sit patient as the poet um's
From page to page before he comes
To something low-keyed, trivial,
He might, um, read. His voice, a moth's

Slow stuttering flight. My brain grows numb.
This is the English idiom:
Reserved free verse, laconic, slight.
Two hours of this and I can't smoke.
I sip the complimentary plonk.
My eyes stray to the double-doors;
If only Anna's 'drunks and whores'
Frequenting Petersburg's 'Stray Dogs',
Herself among them, skirt worn tight,
Would burst in with their fug of smoke,
And show him what poetry's about!

I think of Alexander Blok,
'The tragic tenor of his age',
His eyes like an electric shock;
Of Osip Mandelstam, that verse
Which sent the Kremlin mountaineer
Into a paroxysm of rage
And him to labour camps and death
From typhus near Vladivostok.

I think of how his widow knew
Each line of his entire work
By heart; though scarcely dared to sleep
For fear she might forget a line.
Of course it helped her that he wrote
In metre, the device by which
A poem can memorise itself.
For poems without form we keep
Having to reach up to the shelf.

His voice still flutters like a moth.
I could have stayed at home to wank.
I fix my gaze upon the wall
Of the bleak assembly hall,
Seeing, in well-typed Roman, verse -
Or so it looks; it can't be worse
Than his; I blink to clear my eyes...
No, it's 'In the event of fire.'
That's droll... We have his poetry,
There's no fire that it can't control.

Imagine -dear God!-memorising
This poet's work! There's just one line
Of his I love, and know by heart;
Almost sublime, and as surprising
As, through black clouds, a harvest moon:
'And now, um, now... perhaps... to end...'
Not yet. Not yet. Stalin, old friend,
Send in your thugs. An instant burst.
Then bury him in some silent wood.