A poem by JAMES PATRICK CASEY.
The imperceptible healing of skin over an old wound,
Rebuilding as it does, is like the birth and rebirth of an ancient species
That, when left untouched, will stand for eons,
In the clouds by the goddesses, or atop the hill-isles beyond the forty-nine seas.
Yet we are missing this in that city
Where I live,
Where we live,
Where all toil to forge identities, scrabbling around
For the masks of Kamaro and Gorman,
Unshedding ourselves anew in those alleys
Until we are embraced by the flesh-thickened neighbours
Who see us in their chains as we judge them in our own.
Yet should we cut too much,
Or too little,
Or with the wrong blades and hacksaws,
Or in the image of another
(That must not be too unlike another so as to be an affront),
The straps break,
Wooden front cracking,
Like the boards of a ship under relentless cannon-fire, or the whipped limbs of a sea-beast,
And we are left as we were,
I as I was,
Left to slink where we will amongst the mechanised tunnels and tall toll-blocked tombs of vehicles
And await the collapse of the Moon.
Bending from perch to perch atop greasy poles well-shinned, and rotten gherkins with footholds of glass.
There is supposedly a purpose to these,
And other things like them,
Surely! Else they would not be.
Yet they are striking as it is to look for a shadow to light the way,
Or the heavy feet of Darmani to swim a river.
But such things are lost to the slinkers
And the flailing, in-house outhouse hands,
With their demands of newer skins, fresher eyes,
Cleaner toes to do their trampling,
Or even the merest roll of paper.
But do people not birth things in the city? Would be the cry were there a crier ever heard.
To my knowledge, we create, and shape, and express
Through form and speech and minds alone,
Yet we are as the Great Bay players without Lulu and Mikau,
Impotent, silent, minds alone.
And as no Hero’s journeys did save them,
And no Hero’s gift could restore them,
Our futures will not be revived, as our presents,
Shameful as they are,
Are coveted as bottles,
And brought forth just as empty,
Just as useless,
Promising to carry and illustrate so much,
Yet falling back into the sad relevance of the sketch, the word, the rhyme,
The verse, the book, the polygon
The Times article, the WordPress blog, the YouTube video,
Until what is new becomes what was new,
And what will be new will have to be what is new.
We never can ourselves heal, but we stay,
Smiling, our concrete prison of shadow,
Of all the forced words, forced work, and forced play
And of our wide choices of suffering,
That we assume makes the pain go away.
O! resting drum, ebbing strings, waking pipes,
For not the First, Second, or Third, I pray,
But dear hope, the dawning of a new day.