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Friday, 8 June 2012
The Marriage of Beauty and Banality
What are these four, I'm wondering:
four kinds of votive offering?
Sacrificial victims to the Lamb of Landfill?
Gate-keepers maybe, meant to keep
the dark consumer world at bay..?
Not all of it, of course. All but its detritus.
Themselves part of the detritus:
a Teddy bear
waist deep in oil
(old engine oil, my guess -
do I know of a pool spilt sometime from
some old container?)
and a doll,
her battered head in duct tape turban,
splattered blood and mud,
beside a leprechaun
and woolly lion with tangled mane.
alone shows signs of life, as if
he is about to dance a jig.
as something of a shock to realise
his head is firmly in the lion's mouth!
The lion lets loose a mighty roar,
the leprechaun is unperturbed,
doll and Teddy bear are wet with fear.
Lion and leprechaun are poised atop
a pile of old computers, and display
a sign, its marks marked out in marker pen:
PLEASE REMOVE YOUR HARD DRIVE FIRST!
Then leave the rest here for the leprechaun -
it's why he's all in green.
Who are these four
then, ancient saints
of this, a modern faith enshrined
here in its place of worship?
its Gospels? Or
the Horsemen of some new
Apocalypse, strange symbols of a pestilence,
a war, a famine and a death to come?
The way a fox will pee to mark its territory,
the priestly caste of waste recycle operatives
have marked the boundaries, the borders set
around their Holy Mountain -
this to emphasise
its difference, its not belonging to
the plain of plain mankind beyond. Their
cone-shaped golden vases of fresh flowers
on trestles of white wood
include giant buttercups, ferns, meadow turf,
and daisies, burdock, sedge and bracken.
All plants with ancient powers. Some stand
in harsh and unambiguous contrast
before the grey and rusting skips and giant
containers. Others are but fragrant pee
laid down at intervals
around the hinterland -
Or are they just to decorate?
The way pew-ends are dressed before a wedding?
From outside looking in
the scene is unremarkable,
but, past the lines of guardian plants, becomes
more alien than Mars.
This is the portal to the promised landfill -
portal in its turn to the fulfillment of our dream.
This is the Customs and the Duty House.
Here creatures of a gnomic disposition,
doctors of the periodic scale of waste,
of all compatibilities and powers of such,
well versed in disciplines beyond our understanding,
do scrutinise the offerings we bring
before dispatching each of us
to his appointed bin.
Nature, in whom all beauties once were rolled together,
still can blush, confronted by her groom.
Perhaps it is the lack of visual beauty that offends,
the blush no longer innocent, but tinged with loss.
What comforts can her Black Prince of Banality provide
to compensate for what his bride will miss?
The answer's in these simple plants
the way they hold their own...
as if some tiny particles of earth
had found their first, unsullied form
and started Earth again.
No wonder it looks alien!
Our world has only taught us right and wrong,
good and evil mixed. We never thought
to see them separate and stand
in contradiction, each to each.
Beyond them lies the great nave of the Lamb of Landfill.
Here relics that have lost their power
are laid to rest by devotees
in hope of resurrection to some future life
as artefact or plant or animal.
Begonias decaying slowly on a path
acquire a different kind of beauty. Soon
from the great nave an anthem sounds - and the event's
photographer - who could be Dali - sees a new
and alien world he must record, for only he
would think a choir of herring gulls
(white cassocks, blue-grey surpilces, and sin-black fingers to their gloves)
in panicked movements back and forth beyond the chancel arch -
though in good voice, rehearsing all their cries and squarks. Only he
would think rust bucket of a car
where the high altar ought to be.
And thinking is enough to freeze the image for all time.
The artist as philosopher.
morph into still lifes - or lives.
Safaris in a fridge.
The stains on
an old mattress are pictures in a fire.
A rocking horse is caught
in razor wire
and angel flares dance lightly every night
on clouds of methane gas.
The locals think them ghosts,
will not go near the place.
Here art is myth.
are the unicorns who walk
the grim banality of grime.
Beauty is of Earth, and visual
beauty of Earth's God;
the anthem vain.
How did banality - that strange banality
that crept upon the landscape
like a predatory beast
its presence there
and no mistake
resulting not from
failure of imagination
from something we had overlooked
but by design -
how did that special and peculiar benality
adopted by our culture
in church and fashion house
at home and in the media.
Can someone tell me what,
adopting it, we have interred?
The wedding guests are eyeless (some)
or without ears. They've lost
the organs that they did not use
or use enough. The god
of this new world has proved himself
a jealous god indeed.
Ten inches in ten years, they've raised
this great cathedral floor.
The images from yesterday
the edges fuzzed
the contours lost their shape
the grass grown over them.
(Three years they have been capping it.)
(Still clearly visible from space,
but not from here.)
Its' life, but life
impinging upon life.
It's life browbeating life.
No object comes untrammelled
Each one is linked to concepts,
expressions or beliefs.
Juxtapose the images, you juxtapose the thoughts.
As if a Chinese ideogram
became a video.
This for Chazinator's Critique and Craft prompt at http://dversepoets.com/