Saturday, 9 January 2016

from Blackwater Quartet, selection 59

Autograph Ode

The street grid sliced the wind that winter, small

surprises at each corner with the knife-

edge angles pressing at each turn, a wall:

subzero perpendicular to life

we measured on a warmer scale of fife

notes floating in an acid-head Arcadia—

the Beatles subterranean, nightlife

in hick town downtown cafeteria,

the revolution’s bus ride from suburbia.

A script of Hard Day’s Night with doodled strokes,

the pencilled margins and the corner-pleat,

a souvenir of ’64, evokes

the Ipswich Gaumont and the spit-curls sweet

with hormones in a fifteen-shilling seat—

the second performance, eight forty-five,

the audience transfigured in the heat

of chords, suspended on the screams that drive

the middle eight and thrash into the air alive.

The Mersey beat in cut-to-strut drainpipes,

guitars’ four-four and stage of scaffold planks

for tinny amps vibrato archetypes

crank up to Twist and Shout, the fans’ phalanx

as limousines depart: ‘goodnight, and thanks’

McCartney waves, and thousands stand in dumb-

show desperation, waving back from ranks

that sink, rise sobbing, cresting to a numb

hysteric, the electric canon they become.

The artefacts of travellers recall

an antique time by auction and bequest.

The zebra stripes in Abbey Road marked Paul

for resurrection, barefoot with the blessed

where tapes reversed revealed the alkahest

those cults required. A dream world comes adrift,

and decades fade to standing here. The rest

is feedback, lives sold lot by lot, a sift

through shadows where the psychedelic stars redshift.

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