Friday, April 09, 2010

Sestina Camden Town

Sestina: Camden Town

The war, the war on Man, the
war on woman, the ghost
assembled armies vanish in
their realms

Allen Ginsberg
Planet News 1968

Sometimes the railway is sunk
between embankments; sometimes it passes
over the houses and canals
of Camden. The railway is like
an old copy of Peace News
still running – if war breaks out or peace.

All of it is real, every piece,
the trains, the lives, everything that passes,
and yet at times it seems like stale news:
dead stories blown by the canals,
the ink gone blank as soon as it is sunk -
sunt lacrimae rerum, or something like

the late Evening News: a paper I would like
to read again, discover zones of peace
where minds were broken or a heart was sunk,
knowing the bedroom where the night train passes,
where dreamt roads become burnt-out canals,
and morning brings the shock of dreaded news

or freedom from it. And still The News
is dreadful, do what you like!
Below your room, above the canal,
the trains rattle on. The face of no-peace,
for all that, reaches you, draws level, passes
so close, you see its pain has sunk

because everything that matters has sunk.
Through roofs and walls more wireless news
builds up like static, enters, passes
through ether. The wagons sound not to like
their steel-walled cargo, passing piece by piece:
their screech is mirrored in the still canal.

Making minute threads of the canals,
up where the whole sky is greyly sunk
in sound – a plane, iron bird if you like,
just passing through… There follows a peace
which is Prussian Blue, the Planet’s news
at last - where Ginsberg’s cool news passes

low, reaching through absence into peace,
while morning Metro’s clutch of bleeping news
chirps at the Oysters and the freedom passes.