A snail upon the concrete, half way high,
Just scaling up the slabs to the broken-bottle prism
That shards into the crown that lacerates the sky –
It’s breaking up the straight lines, a bauble on the brutalism.
This snail is still there, weeks later, its shell becoming its coffin. I wonder if it were poisoned by the concrete ?
I went on down to the Tate today
To see the pompous, macho art –
Art that’s oh so very clever,
Art that’s far more smug than smart.
It hates so much to be attractive,
Loves to interrupt the brain –
Wants to make the world more ugly,
Wants to dare us to complain.
But most of all, this art is terrified,
It’s scared of beauty and of ornament –
Frightened of a crafter’s gentle pride,
And what to do once all its shock is spent.
But most of all, it’s frightened we might think it gay,
And desp’rat’ly it butches up its empty walls.
But I really loved my trip down to the Tate today –
By far the best of spots to view St Paul’s.
On the Inability of many Victorians
to adequately append to their Dissertations
such short and succinct titular Benamings
as would better serve their weighty Publications
without exposure to crucial Details
of sundry Devices and Plots thus delineated
by which the presumed Reader is disprivileged
and their subsequent Enpleasurement undersated.
The rich live in houses, the poor in cells,
This is how classes are classed –
From Kensington Gore to Tunbridge Wells
The best were designed in the past.
The poor get newer and concreted hells
That are decomposing fast.
Of course, the new could be just like the old,
But then they would all get far too bold –
So keep them ugly, keep them cold,
And build them not to last.
The trouble with writers, back in that day,
They never had chances to finish the job –
Just splash on the whitewash, any old way,
And promise and short-change and rob.
Too many loose-ends and threpenny warts,
Too many set-ups with no second coat –
Till Misery’s suddenly out of his sorts,
And the author is slashing our throats.
I came for satire, complexity, and human drama – but left with cyphers and a lecture…
When I rail against the bland sterility of modern style,
Then this is not the antidote I seek !
These cut-and-pasted noddy-boxes miss the measure by a mile,
With all the mumbled sorries of the meek.
Sure, their bricks are red, their roofs are pitched, their gables high and wide,
But rooms are small and low, whose renders flake.
Windows (though they’re never sashed) may these days keep the warmth inside,
But why must all their glazing bars be fake ?
Of course, compared with houses of the past, they have a lot to offer –
Plumbing, carpets, wires and insulation –
But still they’re easy prey for ev’ry Brutalist and Bauhaus scoffer,
As these clones have spawned across the nation.
But worst of all, these mega-builders have the blueprints on their books
Of many variations on the theme –
And yet, in any field, they seem so terrified to mix the looks
Incase there’s fewer profits left to cream.
And oversighting councillors, with targets jacked and budgets slashed,
Are powerless or spineless to allay.
And so this new Jerusalem is jerry-built and pebble-dashed –
And yet, still beats a high-rise any day !
Never mind the drama queen
Who’s posing by the railing,
As camp as a jellybean,
Just wibbly-wobbly wailing.
Never mind the sky of red
Or bay of blue-macabre –
Like Jupiter is overhead,
As streaky as the harbour.
Never mind if we can’t find
What makes the screamer crazed –
The couple coming up behind
Seem perfectly unfazed.
We all of us have sneaked a look
Beneath the fly-sheet of a book,
And fingered off her jacket, bared her boards –
Within, she’s nothing but a prude,
Her marbled end-sheets firmly glued,
Her bindings taut and frayless in their cords.
Her underwear is stiff and plain –
Her paper blouse must block the stain
Of endless greasy paws and sweaty hordes.
But she is flimsy in her gown,
It tears and creases, lets her down,
As grasping, eager hands make careless wards –
The better writ, the more she’s read
Until her spine is cracked for dead –
So dogs shall ear all good books, save the Lord’s.
And worse, the paperbacks ! Those dames
Who proudly bare their racy names
Across their breasts, like penny-dreadful broads –
Yet she too welcomes ev’ry leer,
Her first of many lovers here
Who gorge all words she joyously affords –
Though she’s still crisp and virgin-white,
Her pages quite uncut and tight,
That readers must tease open with their swords.
This walk of the cemet’ry was opened just a decade back,
With headstones still as sharp as on the day they left the chisel,
Looking like they need to soften with a century of drizzle –
Alabaster white and granite red and marble black,
With hearts, and stars, and open books, and roses marking losses –
Many doves and cherubs, fewer angels, hardly any crosses.
A dozen diff’rent fonts are used, a hundred quoted lines –
And honestly, the sculptor’s task is difficult enough –
To craft them sombre, yes, yet touching, dignified, yet full of love.
So even here, there’s fashion – we’re so human in our shrines,
To leave behind a memory and not forgotten bones.
It’s strange to think that this may be a golden age of grieving stones.