Urban Physic Garden


Jacob’s Ladder

June 24th, 2011 · No Comments · Medicinal Plants Poetry Project, Uncategorized

my heart is not in this
      not here, my heart is not in painless things
    burning wings
        burning ducks
a stalk                 a 3 foot erection crowned with a cheese
                watching vhs videos of the gulf war
my heart is not in this
  sweet bella dear
introducing me to Peckham
      & my introductions to myself on Peckham
road     dear Christopher page
          keeping me company
      an inch from a rosebush
    a stride to a poppy
              my heart in that
a human being has so many skins
  covering the depths of the heart
    we know so many things                 but we don’t know ourselves!
      why, thirty or forty skins or hides,
                                  as thick and hard
as an ox’s or bear’s                 cover the soul
go into your own ground
                          and learn to know yourself there
know the scowl alighting the bus
      the care for shotgun young
                              the hardening
      though my clothes are not black
any longer                 but blue       as the
blacker ladder lung just rusted
        by rungs
      an inch from a rosebush
    a bubble                 a step from a poppie
& I shall not make money from
                    bloodshed         in that I choose
my heart is in that                                   I have been
  by Romania
                          by Jacob’s driss & a jab               & the bus
      436 to Paddington
    & my dusty book of sermons
                              these people are my flock
      just making their way
the knower is I
and the known are they
  the knower and the known are one
                          while the eye in which i see him
              is the eye in which he sees me
    and here in the garden
              simple people imagine that they should see him
as if he stood there and they here
                                      but this is not so
I have enemies
that disagree
              I have a care               I know nothing but my back
is into this     I do
know children by this plant
            no plants to stare too long
almost never its mother
                almost I see the ladder
            made of twelve steps, and on each step there are two human forms
                one on each side of the step
                  visible as far as their breasts
      on the top of the ladder there was a face, as of a man
                    carved in the fire
                and much more terrifying than the twenty-four other busts
                  the Lord is over this central face
though I rarely see the mother
    rarely crying
in that? in that marbles
  I am definitely not in that hour
              no climbing or clutching yet
hands coming for me
to drag me down
            that is alone
                not gutting     no torture     no sorrow
  no penis being cut off
                invasions     humiliations
                          I take in my vita
warmth     & smile     friends     the ladder is the Age
                            the twelve steps are the periods in which
                a man takes in by contemplation
                            and pours out in love     knowing
what is pseudoepigraphic
                is worth reading
            and eating
i find myself resistible
            at altitude     facing down on water
  mere     trouble followed
    a strength of indifference to russes
      like an English city beyond London
    I can take or leave it
i feel like dying
    like devils are tearing my life away
    & as I exercise, eat well
  refuse drink
  I am destined to die, sick
refusing chemotherapy     while herbs make no difference
to my physical wellbeing
              & unable to find a day when I am strong
            enough to kill myself
I shall melt into a bed
            like a rivergulf
          possessed by an ill given reading of Eckhart
        familiar truly
                    with fear for the first time in my last moments
          I will experience
a conversion                                   too sick
                  to speak of it, saving the embarrassment
of my wife and friends
  who I no longer recognise
but see as the mangled disabled children
      whose care I abused
          pulling their hair, trapping them
under chairs     to wristlock & strangle
into submission
        for my pleasure       for my heartlessness
has hardened into cancer
      each hand on the rung is denied
          but lay my body on a mountain top
    among the bloody polemonium
SJ Fowler
(From Herbarium, a new poetry anthology. Launch and reading 22 July)

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