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The Partitioned Wailing Wall - Part One

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The Partitioned Wailing Wall - Part One

         for Alan Painter

I have put into many ports
handle with care
stood on the wharfs, bare-shouldered
up to the knee, unloading
   cashew and coconuts
and then set sail again
finding no substance to trade

I have seen the waters rising
  and the walls submerge
     the roofs converge
        the children washed on
the battlements

I have heard the chasm cries
Stifled under jackboots
  the whimpering against walls
lost somewhere
   in the hoarse
Gött mit Uns !

Come home, she cried, 
  in the lap of jettisoning tribes
Come home, my weary ones
   home to toil and die
     labour and sigh
         curse and cry

Did he not withdraw to that
   holy backwater by Milan
and with the cup of his Confessions
     bathe his horrent sins away

I listened to a story
              that our first quarter
remembered to tell
but the waters of the Himavant
  had long curdled
    in the breast
of the suttee wife

I listened long
                     in the myopic light
disfigured in the white heat
     of our Enlightenment
to the trapped voices of inquiry
before all the mania of demigods
       trumped through the weaning years
the delirious lust of revenge

And then, and then I
                        did not care what happened
what could happen
there was life
it was worth having
                              So I went
labelled: handle with care

Who are those people
  skimming past the mortal coast
torch untouched by hand
  in the drowning mists
have they no work to do

And that rope of smoke
A troubling dizziness
  rising out of the funnel
of the Black Forest
where professors they say
guide the race
                in the aftermath
of charred marrow
 I see no mists, no ghosts
No coasts, only torches
     and parades and blocks and blocks
of beering beef and munition mounds

and in the not too open days
froth in the lolling oceans
and bowelling brain-splattered skies

even like unmapped sunset glories
now the Krakatua lies spent
fished out of some Japanese isle

the false auroras of enchanting horizons
when soughing metallic dust
                   courses through skulls
lava in an epileptic fit

(...continued in Part Two)

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