Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Counting-Reading Song



Counting match-ends,
reading labels on bottles,
distinguishing patterns on wallpaper,
watching the smoke rise from the fire,
counting on somebody else,
reading new meanings into words,
distinguishing myself on a wall,
with a blunt pencil,
watching the smoke rise from the fire,
counting dead sheep,
reading pornography in the urinal,
distinguishing good from bad,
watching the smoke rise from the fires,
counting the dead,
reading the obituaries,
distinguishing the heroes from the cowards,
watching the smoke rise from the pyres,
counting the cost,
reading labels on bottles,
distinguishing the faces
and putting labels on them,
with names and numbers on the labels
and caked blood on the faces,
washing the salt from my eyes
and the blood from my hands,
leaving no traces.

First published poem from 1968.( in 'Dawn' ) I was taken aback by some of the prescient imagery. Chopped the last two lines from the original. Superfluous. Made one or two small changes. Pic. Anti-Vietnam War demonstration, US Embassy, Grosvenor Square. The time and place of my political birth!

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