Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

War Diary Part 3


Beer and dole and Blockbuster rentals

That’s why young men join the army-

To free themselves from  the squalid circle

Of beer and dole and Blockbuster rentals


After the desert the blue, blue sea.

A sailor breaking up boats with a hammer.


A quiet berth, a tidal creek-

I think of Summer with Monika.


O, Harriet Andersson,

You were so perky, you were zippy


I knew a girl a whole lot  like you



          This was the Iraqi  navy.

The sailor swings at an instrument panel

Take that Saddam- right in the dial.



Some people like to play with these figures-

A game with rules and rolls of the dice.

I don’t.  I can’t be doing the math.

I count on my fingers and even then stumble.


Also I’m not so keen on armies-

The giving of orders, the taking of orders-

The figures I buy are solitaries

Wizards, swordsmen, adventurers


And what I like is to put them in place

On a cardboard base with styrofoam features,

Flocked, painted- a miniature world

I can dwell in briefly.


                             O, so briefly.

Making these things is the real escape.

Once they’re completed they gather dust.

I’ve just constructed a world for nymphs.

They have a hill, a lake, a grove,

All sacred.


                   Now I’m making a dungeon

And stocking it. I keep adding on rooms

To keep it alive.


                             So many black rooms

Each with its foulness.


                             I’m making bids

On monsters, victims, gibbets, racks.

The very last thing I bought was a sphinx.


She’s glancing up.  She’ll be asking that question.


I haven’t decided yet if she’ll  lie

On the dungeon threshold or  hang with the nymphs.




The daffodils are out in the park

The banks of heather are firing up.


And not being able to clear out Blair,

We’re getting tough on the silly old fools-

That’s me and Ailz- who filled up our house

with such cartloads of junk.


                                                          The books will be sold.

The Works by Ian Hamilton  Finlay

(Some of them signed ) I’m going to give

To the Whitworth.


                   And when I find myself

(Pah superstitious, pah, sentimental)

Starting to temper my ruthlessness,

I tell myself a story I’ve changed

From a zen original (see next section).


Books do fur up a room.  They encourage

The person who owns them to think he’s solid

And not just a thread of capricious fancy-

A butterfly’s track.


                                      The Irish adept,

Olivia Durdin Robertson,

Has written that we project our selves

(Whatever a self is) into each life

As a reader projects herself into a novel,

Getting completely absorbed in it,

Till someone speaks- and breaks the thread

And her eyes slip sideways, out through the margin.



It’s winter. An adventuring cleric                           

Is making his way through the frozen woods.

The moon is huge, the wolves go “whoo-hoo”

And the zombies lumber.


                             He carved up two of them

Down by the bridge.


                             And now he’s arrived

At a ruined chapel.


                             He helps himself

To some rotted woodwork with figures of saints

And gets  a fire going.


                             He’s cooking a sausage

Over St Barbara, St George and St Paul

When a voice behind him intones “sacriligous.”

And there in the doorway’s a bloke  in chain-mail

Enormous- the size of Robbie Coltrane-

And he’s smacking the palm of his hand with a mace.


Our man starts scooping the ashes up

And dumping them in a fold of his cloak.


“And what the fuck are you up to now?”

Asks the guy with the mace.


                             “If these statues are holy

We’ll  sell the ashes as relics.”



They’re nothing but statues.”


                                      Our fella sighs,

“Well there’s  a relief. So pull up a pew.

And pass me St Joseph. I’m freezing, aren’t you?



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