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Thursday 15 March 2012

The Death of a Sculptor

For I am a Pirate King!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King! he'd sung
and had to sing so many times that week,
that week which had gone like a month -
not to mention the endless rehearsals
over the months before, or having to wear
that daft pirate costume. And it doesn't
begin to acknowledge the drain on his sang-froid
from having to feign enthusiasm for it all -
and all for nothing more than a few
equally ludicrous points for the Cock House Cup

Then skylarkingly along a moonlit path,
that final evening,
The Pirates of Penzance
behind us, crunching our way home
in utterly revolting style, the ground
beneath our feet a chain-mail carpet with
a brittle pile of giant stag beetles,
ankle deep and falling all the while
from trees above our heads.

Black snow, he cried,
to mock our squeamishness;
They feel no pain!
Remove a beetle's abdomen,
it eats on unaware!
We watched him slay
a score of demons in his head,
chopping beetles by the thousand clean in two.

End of term. End of year. End of school - and years
before we'd hear of him again.
Then on T.V. one evening. Art for All.
A new show with a new presenter, offering
The Next Big Thing in art. It opened with
A Breakfast at the Sculpture Farmstead.
He'd worked all night. We saw him finishing
his shift. A flashback to the thermal lance;
an effort on the bending bars, and then he introduced
his Bifurcated Beetles series.
After which the random touch. The piece
on which he'd laboured so much love
we saw thrown from the hayloft door
before he ran it over with the 4X4.

Over breakfast he explained.
The world is broken. Out of joint.
A photo booth that judders when we smile.
The flash explodes,
the shutter sticks,
light melts the reference points.
The brokenness is in the loss of tension, friend.
We none of us perform unless we're slightly stressed.
We see the tension or its lack in all our artefacts.
The sculptor gives the form the necessary stress
but over time the lump goes out of tune.
The hayloft door, the 4X4 - they simulate a fist,
a fractured rib, electrodes on a lifeless heart.
This moment is the dawn of a new day. From now
I'm offering this service after sales.
My punters can bring back their purchases
and I will make them good as new.

From that seed-thought his Sculpture Clinic grew.
Where came one day, one Lotte Pinkhorn,
mystic, phantast, seer, with Pterosaur
with Lateral Splits for Stress Replacement Therapy
For hours he worked with hammer, file and saw
until... The final touch, the hay loft door.
Free fall. The flying pterosaur
plunged through the narrow space of his imagination

to spread itself in pieces on the floor.
Wings flapped and buckled wildly, fragments soared
like scraps of paper from a bonfire
as the ground turned black with with beetle, crow and pterosaur.
He saw an angel with its palate cleft and cloven hoof for feet
as whores in clouds like locusts flew
with crooked mouths and broken staves
to lacerate the back of men who staggered to their graves.
His mind was broken by the sight. His body by the fall.


I am convinced that sometime in the past I posted an early version of this, but neither I nor Google have been able to track it down, so if any kind person out there in cyber space should happen to know where it is, I would be very grateful t learn.


The Weaver of Grass said...

I love this Dave - I love the images it presents to the reader and being a G and S fan (particularly school productions, where I sang Buttercup one year) it waa doubly enjoyable.

Mary said...

That is quite a tale, Dave; and tne ending is a perfect climax to the poem.

Brian Miller said...

rather interesting and rather surreal at points man...the slaying of the beetles and then the relation to art...and many an artist dances that edge of sanity you know...

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

I can't find the earlier version Dave but this one is sublime, a powerful tour-de-force so vivid and symphonic with a tremendous finale in the last three lines.

I really enjoyed its exuberance, my mind "broken" but also enlightened "by the sight".

Windsmoke. said...

Plenty of vivid images for the mind to feast upon :-).

Kat Mortensen said...

Is this the one you're looking for?


I searched your blog under "sculptor" and that's what came up.

Now to read your masterful piece again!

P.S. Have you read the book, "The Accidental Masterpiece" by Michael Kimmelman? I think you'd like it.

David Cranmer said...

"His mind was broken by the sight. His body by the fall." That may be one of my favorite final sentences of yours, Dave.

David Cranmer said...

Or rather final two sentences. :)

Dave King said...

Thank you so much everyone

I'm afraid it wasn't the one I was looking for Kat. Guess it's been sucked into Bloggoland's big black hole!
Thanks for looking Tommaso
Thanks Weaver for your comments. I enjoyed the school reference.
Nice comment Mary. Thanks.
You are so absolutely bang on Brian. I feel it in my bones!
Good to know you thoughts o Windsmoke.
Like the comment David. Thanks.

Kat Mortensen said...

Oh, too bad!