Tuesday, January 8, 2013

David Howard

Instead Of, In Memory

            Reverend Leicester Kyle (1937-2006)


Instead of rapture, the slumber of a pensioner.
At the end of the garden
the ruined weekend –

its brevity bends the flowers.
Hard work, trimming the hedge of masculine and feminine
rhyme: grief, belief.

We go after certainty, slurring our words
under the full moon. Look
Leicester, we’re nearly

elsewhere. The moon pulls more than its weight – we puff
under the light of the sun, we hum
like generators

yet power nothing to speak of
so we speak, briefly
being of.


If that dog keeps barking
God will wake and silence all of us.
However deep its roots
the apple tree, dripping with piss, trembles.

Forget blossom, fruit, whatever
the ordained season and its proofs
stone is constant. Faith nails up God,
logic nails down god. You believe

spirits appear if you believe –
suck it up, the nothing
left for us. Spindrift, it’s white

like that ectoplasm you hope for.


The deeper you are in the day the more you
crumble, returning your parts
piecemeal to earth. Passers-by will wonder
who you were, who
you thought you were

to make such a mess, to shimmer so
briefly with such unintended consequences.
Who stays free in the empty yard, cradling
an egg in both hands, as if at prayer?
Leicester, we waited to grow up

under the stars, the stars left us
smaller than ever. We kick up dust, wondering…
‘When the stars appeared did father go to bed?
Did he rise by their light to grind wheat?
There is starlight, where is our flour?’


Like Leicester, I have more faith in stones than notions
although stones are faithless – they sink
without fail, without our conception of failing.

A name has weight. Spoken, it negotiates air then
recovers its subject from our grounds
for belief. Artefacts belong to the present.

Between stone and steel tools the life to come goes.
A cut throat does not utter alma redemptoris mater
nor do the city’s bells ring together.

Leicester tests the purity of metals – one hundred percent
heartless, whether razorblade or clapper.
Love, tell me how you survived love.


Tell me how you survived
telling off an absent and mindless god
for shrivelled vegetables, hens with worms, the sick

rolling about in beds made for making
babies. As you speak, Leicester,
your white beard freezes to your black jerkin.

Try to shake your head, knowing
sermons are filled with swearwords in Millerton
where a kea is elected Speaker of the House

while you rehearse the life to come
in fireman’s boots. What size do you take?
To judge by the feel of it…


When you see the world you see through it.
Inside the church a whistle is defiant, outside
inviting – after service the girls

show their legs and then some, mounting
bicycles. Their mothers orbit
in memory, where the alphabet lives –

the one that begins and ends with ‘I’. Leicester,
a generous sun embellishes us
with shadow. We pray for the limelight but

end with quicklime. What’s done is done
for nothing – the nothing that redeems us.
The architecture of flowers seems rational, still

the architect of dead flowers is irrational.


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