A week, a year, whatever
i. So many have started out from silence but I will start from something else like maybe the sprawl of this afternoon. ii. After all it really has everything in it: a tree, some noise of cars and not so long ago lunch. iii. For the longest time I worried people would come up over the wall and get me but I don’t worry about that anymore even as I speak a column of silica is blowing over Europe and all that seems to matter are the cancelled flights I’m not even sure this goal getting the point of view which would be truly detached from our own self-interest is desirable but still from time to time I wish we’d try always to deny the angelic in our nature seems to be the only role someone decided to leave the poets well whoever they were I never met them and their dicta carry small weight with me no, I think the wall will hold just fine and if it doesn’t let them come. iv. In the street it is time for the children to be picked up from school they will all go home or more likely (it is sunny today like it hasn’t been in weeks) to a park but one of the boys is crying. v. This funny thing happened then I went up on the roof and a strong wind picked up just as the restaurant switched off their extractor fan so one sound stopped when the other began and the wind carried off the cooking smells and tossed them with the cumulus. vi. So you see, there really is everything.
teeth shook and jasmine
my teeth shook in my skull and jasmine edged distantly it was far and away the best we’d known it incomparable afternoon within a mediocre year you suggested a picnic I stripped off there & then celadon sky and similar sea and so much summer to get ourselves into cars like vultures circling like no tomorrow as if no not like that tutors rather the learning curve or the way a runner bean turns to grip and matte paint on sun-ladened walls while everywhere else is elsewhere music of intimate and anecdotal life stuff she screamed and screamed and no-one came the day advanced towards its horrible end and anodyne matter meant more and more honey suckle leaves yellow and fall and a tongue thick from menthols dabs at dry lips
I had tried so many different things, tried everything but the fire wouldn’t take; the Christmas tree I had hacked to pieces on the 6th of January in my 33rd year then left for a month to dry, sap forming beads on the branches’ cut ends (crown of studs around a breast) was fed into the chimney as kindling; the oil in its needles fizzed and the flames reached up and round the bought logs from the hardware store and smelt as though the Seneca were blessing me with sage, and died; a friend said it was to do with air: air that needs to circulate freely for fire to burn, so I propped the logs on other logs right-angled to give them height and the air space, like the sky which Hopkins held his hand up into and saw the mother of God in, to move around in and make in moving but the coals and twigs, the little wood burnt red hot and brilliant and the big wood wouldn’t take. I tried toxic stuff: wrapping paper, paper bags, chopsticks, detritus, turned my living room to landfill, billows spilling out and upwards, staining the artwork, shortening our lives; I asked professional advice and learnt that the very manufacture of the fireplace might be at fault, that it might be too high for its width or depth or any other of those two by three equations; something, warmed to this idea the architect in (the poet in) me, and like chess I experimented, logs back middle and forth hung flaps of cardboard from the mantel piece’s lip; surelevated the whole show on a grill, as if if one could get the setting right, the rest, like modernist Utopias or a barrow boy in a Savile Row suit would all just fall into place. I tried other woods, I blew and fanned, I opened doors and windows and froze, the goal of warmth forgotten in the quest: to make at least a small place work, and a void consume indefinitely but it wouldn’t take, no matter what, & the skinny flame flickered like a drunken bride.
© Rufo Quintavalle
Three poems selected from Weather Derivatives (Eyewear Publishing 2014), a fleshy, bleak and tragicomic romp through a world of financial meltdown and ecological degradation. It pulls together five years of work, some of which has been previously published and some of which is appearing in print for the first time. Though written in Paris this collection travels widely in both the real and the imagined worlds and seeks stylistically to position itself in mid-Atlantic between two traditions, the British and the American, that all too often fail to converse.
Born in London in 1978, studied at Oxford and the University of Iowa, and lives in Paris where he is active in the field of environmental impact investing. He is the author of several chapbooks, the most recent of which,moral hazard and the chemical sweats was published by corrupt press in 2013. He was formerly poetry editor for the award winning webzine, Nthposition, and served on the editorial board for the Paris-based literary journal Upstairs at Duroc. He is currently working on a collaboration for cello and voice with the British composer James Weeks.
You can view his blog here: http://rufoquintavalle.blogspot.fr