Reflections at Victoria Station.
Reflections at Victoria Station
(London July 2005)
There is a buzz in the air at Victoria
Station. Sounds of different voices mix
With the coming and the going of feet
That tap rhythms from leather boots
Echoed by the thud, thud of trolley bags,
Pulled effortlessly across the station floor.
Coaches pull in to the numbered gates
In all shapes, elongated bodies picturesque
Disgorge, embark travelers and luggage.
Sunday morning the coach leaves gate 15
The passengers not of British lineage
Visitors from distant lost Empires, watching
Through window frames the fleeing countryside
Of Turner and Constable escape the lazy eye
Turning it to stories read from times when
In England, Kings, Queens and merchants
Rode gilded carriages with footmen to attend.
Kings ordered castles be built as Royal gifts
First Ladies kept the List and entertained
Gentlemen lovers with tongues dripping
Couplets, flattered innocent maidens ears
Les dames in the hunt dressed for the kill
With hats, bodkin, pari passu sarcasm
Delivered by the sneer of the fanged smile
Are defrocked by the passion of Blank verse.
The patient beau finds the unrequited bed
Before the cocks crow he leaves her sheets
Warm with promise of return. He charts his exit.
tie calls on the muse to soothe her moist loins
Still alive with the feasting of the night.
Locks down, bodkin sheathed, his mistress
Awaits the night to feel his touch, and glow
In the dim light, like tropic summer roses.
We join history, its comings and goings
At Victoria, Egalitarianism's benefactors
By air and train emerge. New travelers
Fan out through the gardens and fields where
Castles and their dungeons are now exhibits
Their gentlemen and ladies wax figures.
Lords have for taxes traded kingdom
And horse, for gain and foreign exchange.
Now their amusing peacock flamboyance
Indulgent play, still strutted out at Ascot
Where the carnival of hats pauses time
And the thunderous galloping of horses
Conjures up glory days of jousting when
Knights like Ascot's thoroughbreds compete
In joust, honour king, princes, damsels
Truth, all the world's a stage, and different
Peoples at different times play many parts
Each day presents its players, confident
Knapsacks, cameras flashing, they descend
on British Isles, where once pirates lived
ruled the world to which they now play hosts
to the tourist travelers, No immigrant refugees
no coolie bakra man, no banana boatman
no karate chopping illiterate, no sir-man
Travellers from the East and West and South
Now richer, wealthier, with dollar and yen
Searching for Robin Hood and his merry men
A band of thieves that King and gentry robbed
To give to poor peasants exclusively White,
These prodigal pilgrims come to tour castles
Where the dungeons still stink, racks creak
And tell stories of man's inhumanity to man.
Yesterday, school boys in steamy classrooms
Stood up barefooted, and sang "rule Britania."
Today, in Nikes, with wives, children, knapsacks
They gathered at Trafalgar Square and wondered
About Lord Nelson exalted so high. Pinnacled,
But not beyond the shit of the common pigeon
that flies from hand to hand seeking breadcrumbs
from the finger tips of diversity's cherubs.
Every hour on the hour Big Ben bangs time
More sonorous than their school yard gong
More chimes than bells in the peddler's song
"Sharpening knives and scissors. Soldering pots".
Through the Caribbean nights, every where
Beyond oceans, carried on the voice of BBC
This sentinel of time kept an empire's vigil
Counting, watching the changing of the guards,
Now the New World gathers at the Thames
To watch Ben keep pace with Father Time
And awake memories reached deep
Behind the companion London Eye
High in English skies they hear spitfires
Muller protective drones, spire dive
Time melts, fast forwards: July 7
London's Tube is hit by Suicide Bombers,
Below the double-decker view is marred
The Tube that for a hundred years or more
Gave safe way is now a traveler's crypt.
When cracks in the conscience so deep
Release un-tempered demons held locked
Forgotten in the cauldrons of perdition
For countless time in abject formlessness
Reason cracks, the seas boil, Tsunami
Monstrous deeds transform Puritan ethic
And turns its arguments to new purpose.
Jews, Gentiles, Christians, Muslims, all
God's infidels stripped of core conscience
We forfeit our right to lay blame. Tell me
Who is the wrong doer? Innocence has gone
Untraceable. The origins of sin are lost.
So the English sleeps in English beds
Awakes to the nightmare of world queries
Can 10 Downing Street and the Oval Room
Rally civilizations to a Western beachhead?
Can Bush and Blair rotate the gates of hell
Undo the evil that has been done,
Harvest good, return evil to them bones
Rocking, rattling, looking for a hiding place?
When Big Ben rings the final stroke
And them trumpets sound to start the count
Will the dead of Sept 11. July 7, Spain
Cancel the dead of Niger, Darfour, Kigali?
The lava molten in these eruptions spreads
Scars the nations, inflames, embroils them in
infernos fanned by Dante's raging fury.
We wander in many worlds, where each soul
Listens to its transcendental truths, and meaning
Understood here, is elsewhere insignificant.
We inhabit black holes where what we believe
Impossible, are elsewhere merely our reflections.
We are the players in stories told by others. And what
We hear as a bang is a whimper unheard by God.
We are random sparks scratched on dark matter
In a universe where stars slowly fade to black
We are wired to return to ash from which we came
Dead dust: traveling a universe with no origin
We seek conscience stripped of matter, invent rituals
blind gropings for purpose hidden in the belly of God
Life creates the sea, the land, the birds, the beasts, the trees
And we the poems, and heaven to soothe the pain
Of Death that follows on the brilliance of life.
In this dreamscape of fading lights
We lift our flambeaus in search
Of that space promised, and light lamps
Flowers and candles mark our exits,
The journey begins, the expectation of reward
Ecstasy is impossible in this ephemeral life.
And for all our arguments mere prattle
Accompanying the giving and taking of life
Neither science nor the arts show the way
To one love. Ambiguity raises barriers
Thai divide and teach our sensitivities
To fear and despise our neighbours
Mark them by their distinction for
Exclusion or extinction by neglect
Condemn their children to death camps
Scale and abandon them to maggots and flies
They that escape the scales of cruel injustice
Use inherent dispensability to tragic advantage
A life sacrificed takes many that denies it value
And by example shows disciples "How to"
A way out of the wretchedness of the earth.
Courage invites them to dance with angels
To return to the womb of God and be
Lulled. Somewhere in a silent corner
in a room in martyrs halls, a mother
She sobs. "Hush little baby don't you cry".