Some Martin Carter…

Three Poems of Shape and Motion – A sequence (1955)

I was wondering if I could shape this passion
just as I wanted in solid fire.
I was wondering if the strange combustion of my days
the tension of the world inside of me
and the strength of my heart were enough.
I was wondering if I could stand as tall
while the tide of the sea rose and fell
If the sky would recede as I went
or the earth would emerge as I came
to the door of morning locked against the sun.

I was wondering if I could make myself
nothing but fire, pure and incorruptible.
If the wound of the wind on my face
would be healed by the work of my life
Or the growth of the pain in my sleep
would be stopped in the strife of my days.

I was wondering if the agony of years
could be traced to the seed of an hour.
If the roots that spread out in the swamp
ran too deep for the issuing flower.
I was wondering if I could find myself
all that I am in all I could be.
If all the population of stars
would be less than the things I could utter
And the challenge of space in my soul
be filled by the shape I become.

After One Year (1964)

After today, how shall I speak with you?
Those miseries I know you cultivate
are mine as well as yours, or do you think
the impartial bullock cares whose land is ploughed?
I know this city much as well as you do,
the ways leading to brothels and those dooms
dwelling in them, as in our lives they dwell.
So jail me quickly, clang the illiterate door
if freedom writes no happier alphabet.
Old hanging ground is still green playing field –
Smooth cemetery proud garden of tall flowers –
But in your secret gables real bats fly
mocking great dreams that give the soul no peace,
and everywhere wrong deeds are being done.
Rude citizen! think you I do not know
that love is stammered, hate is shouted out
in every human city in this world?
Men murder men, as men must murder men,
to build their shining governments of the damned.

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