Monday, 15 February 2021 12:29

To William and Psychogeography In The Year The World Shrank

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To William and Psychogeography In The Year The World Shrank

To William

by Caroline Ritchie, image above is from Jerusalem by William Blake

Inventing things that don’t work is a brilliant thing, you know.
– William Lyttle.

Forgetting how to triangulate,
or calculate, the hours of folly
like a good Royal Societician,
tirelessly you build (or dig)
your way to a clockless kind
of wisdom.
                 Unknown to the eagle.

Furnish your halls with ingenious
home-made trinkets. Trust, if you can,
that they might not go to waste.
Of late the nonexistent audience
for which you longed begins to seem
both more and less impossible.

There’s a kind of burrowing down
that builds up worlds of delight.
A strange subscendence, furling
outside in, inside out as you make
your almighty mess.

Strange maker of worlds!
How do you describe
your Employment Situation,
your Official Occupation,
on census forms?

Do you even fill out census forms?

*

If you don’t find treasure there, why do you do it?

If you don’t find answers there, why do you do it?

If you don’t find anything there, why do you do it?

*

William, you are continually destroying the foundations of our world.

I am continually building. That’s how I stay alive.

In the tunnels of Mortimer Street
I both see and hear. I open the streets
to reveal a thousand possible streets.
You want to know what the big secret is?
There isn’t one.
                        Tell me: who builds
that does not also destroy?

*

Old consternation:

If nobody likes it, why do you do it?

If nobody understands it, why do you do it?

If nobody pays you, why do you do it?

William, is it lonely in the city of art?

*

Does the Eagle know what is in the pit?
Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?
– William Blake

Your subtractive arts are seldom known
now. A quirky piece of local knowledge.
Urban drifters wander past, sparing a wink
for the mad genius of the underground.

You thought it your duty to believe
that history need not be destiny,
so you etched your beautiful lines
of desire into the fabric of the city.
Digging ever inwards to the heart of it,
or else to the edge of it. A labour of love.
Possibly / impossibly signifying nothing,
brilliantly.

There is said to be a moment in each day
that Satan cannot find. Did you find it,
William, while you built your utopia
out of London soil?
                               You never did say.

 

Psychogeography In The Year The World Shrank

by Caroline Ritchie, image below is from Jerusalem by William Blake

Found: the private joke.
HEAVEN TREE CLOSE – PRIVATE ROAD

Local artistes
tattoo the roller-shuttered shopfronts
overnight in possible protest
VFD is a snuffed glitterfest
and Gorki’s House a dark recess
and do you trek to genuflect
by the old fig tree
where lies the sainted anarchist
NEAR BY?
Meanwhile pretty exquisite couples
with exquisitely tiny dogs
pause in Butterfield Green
and think it very wild

Found: the ideal stated as fact.
LIFE (read: LONDON) ISN’T BEAUTIFUL
UNTIL IT’S BEAUTIFUL
FOR EVERYONE

In St Mary’s Old Churchyard
doc-marten galumphing
and drive your plow
over the bones of the dead
til the earth remembers
your great galumphing feet
Great irreverent equaliser:
flatten the earth as the headstones
are flattened, sanded to wordlessness
by the weather
and still, in time
roots irrupt, bone-sown
EROS
am I getting warmer?

Found: the ruin presaging future ruin.
Shabby caryatid scroll up in the cornice
of a somewhat posh fishmonger

The city of dreadful mornings
beats with the abstract pulse
of a stranger
but within you
so that you know it deeply
and you drink deeply
of the glamour and trash
of megalopolitan wreckage:
you begin to develop fetishes
like rusted S-hooks
on Victorian buildings, and
masonic markings
on paving stones
The rooms above high-street
shops are continual mysteries

Found: the parkbench-eulogy one-liner.
‘OLD IS WHEN THE ONLY THING
YOU CAN DO FAST IS GET TIRED’

CR jerusalem.e.p72.100

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Caroline Ritchie

Caroline Anjali Ritchie is a poet and researcher living in London. She is currently completing a PhD on the poetry and art of William Blake.