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painting by schulenburg

 

Christopher Barnes

 

WHEN PAPA SLEEPS, EVERY NIGHT THE SAME DREAM...

it spurts along an ebony piano, tailbacking
to the Palace of Electricity,
a listening post of clear bulbs,
voltage wires and sockets.
A houseproud pod
floodlit face-to-face with night
in the splash of the Paris Exposition.
The overture debases a fancy-led ballroom,
number work strutting over a herringbone floor.
Preliminaries - silk slippers waltzing
into the burdonsome hobnails of factory workers.
A clodhop surge of peasant conscripts,
unfathomable coloured nasturtiums
in the nostrils of rifle magazines.
Then there's the rumbling of Maxims
the diabolical paring of a shovel,
six hundred rounds a minute,
potholes in the earth's crust.
Here there is sometimes a whimper.
Auxiliaries with pistols
bulging the low ebbs of waves
of death-bringing gases.
Comerades putrify on duckboards,
half-clothed sandbags,
blood and bits on the firestep.
Skulls, hair, torsos
beat flat by mortars.
Pieces of Alan oozing off the trees.

 

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