Richard Warren

20thc British art and poetry (mainly), plus bits of my own – "Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

Establishing the canon

Dodging mobility scooters by Ann Summers, I drift
into Smith’s, where I check through the mags for the zeitgeist,
but discover I am vintage, which brings responsibility:
what to snap to fix in the brain, confirming
an arrangement to remember not the unrememberable moment
but its numbered image? By the ‘Tragic Life Stories’
large girls in leggings shout at each other. Stuffing back
a tattoo monthly, I head off for Costa’s,
with an option to plot the key points of my obituary.

At home, by the flaked pillars of its excessive portico,
I sip on a Pimm’s, and consider my stateliness.
The gardens that decline from the lawn seem in order;
beyond the unsafe bridge and the ludicrous urn
the scene appears blurry and haphazard. No deer
are in sight. In the east wing we’re reconstructing the decor
of long abandoned rooms, despite repeated objections
from the busybody brigade. Magenta? Same difference …
These perpetual renovations are becoming burdensome.

In the library, more problems. I thumb each index,
seeking my name. Without that bastard’s intervention,
I’d have made the anthologies; might things have been otherwise?
Critical opinion shifts its unlovely weight;
so which books to throw? And would we regret it?
These bear another’s archly Deco bookplate;
no good to me. Burn the lot. Their curling ashes
make baroque the tired fireplace. Disencumbered, I feel able
to bring needed revision, to construct my new tradition.

Copyright Richard Warren 2011

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