Kenneth Allott


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I offer you my forests and my street-cries
With hands of double-patience under the clock,
The antiseptic arguments and lies
Uttered before the flood, the submerged rock.
The sack of meal pierced by the handsome fencer,
The flowers dying for a great adventure.

I offer you the mysterious parable,
The mount of reason, the hero's glassy hymn,
The disquieting uproar of the obvious
Hate in the taproom, murder in the barn
The long experienced finger of the Gulf Stream,
The flying sense of glory in a failure's dream.

I offer you the bubble of free will,
The rarefied agony of forgotten places,
The green cadaver stirring to the moon's pull,
The cheerful butchery of raw amateur faces
Which, like the half-blind nags shipped off for food
Die, doubtless serving some higher good.

I offer you the Egyptian miracle,
The acrobat doing handsprings in the rain,
A touched up photograph in sepia
Of the future teasing the fibres of the brain
I offer you the seven league army boots he wears
Striding down the black funnel of the years.

I offer you a coral growth of cells,
A flash of lightning anchored in a carafe
The withered arm of the last century
Cannot provoke a demon to anger us,
The strap-hanging skeleton of what has been
Is out of date forever like the crinoline.

I offer you clouds of nuisance, fleur de lis,
The opening lips of summer where pigeons rest
The exploding office of the vast nebula
The heraldic device under the left breast,
The taut string and the scribbler's Roman tread
Impinging on the slow shores of the dead.

I offer you the tithes of discontent,
The deck-games played with shadows on a cruise
Beyond the islands, marked on the ancient maps
With the broken altars, markets in disuse
To some "unspoilt" and blessed hemisphere
Where comfort twists the lucid strands of air.

I would offer you so much more if you would turn
Before the new whisper in a forgiving hour.
Let all the wild ones who have offended burn,
Let love dissemble in a golden shower,
Let not the winds whistle, nor the seas rave
But the treasure be lapped forever in an unbroken wave.

There is nothing that I would not offer to you,
My silken dacoit, my untranslatable,
Whether in the smug mountains counting the stars
Or crossing the gipsy's palm at the Easter fairs
With so much that is difficult to say
Before the frigid, unpeculating hours
Shall drive this foreign devil to the sea.

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Kenneth Allott