(on Valley Diction)
What has stopped me from making notes on A Sinner Saved by Grace (which I want to nename something like The Art of Valley Diction) has been the sad fact that I find myself dissatisfied with parts of it. I thought to revise it. The first poem to undergo revision was Party Spirits (for Roger Langley), which I did for a Memorial Gathering at the Swedenborg Hall, on the 4th of June 2011. Here is the new version:
Party Spirits for
for Roger Langley (3rd attempt)
This game we call it Guess
of what it is, that animated little gist
of something tickling in the brain; that impish
whatnot hidden in the verbiage disporting stuff---
Could it be Spirit? Spirit! I’d be just about
to shout out loud but stumble into doubt,
for it proliferates, with Spurt and Sprite,
or Spurge if verbiage means vegetation,
think of wrinkled wee green men.
Or look out Spit sits out upon my own tongues tip---
I could be wrong, and swallow my suggestion back.
Then Roger Langley calmly calls it Jack.
And we knew it was that.
Hick fidgets. Hob looks to the clock,
while Ken and Tom begin discussing getting back.
Joan makes her face up.
Jill brews up for drivers on the hob.
All feel well-chuffed for Roger, his choice
bowl straight at the Jack. All but bar Mick
who might be drunk and half-way sick,
a good bit bitten by he should have won, cross
not to have come first: He sees his Spirit
is the Ghost that Lost its Voice.
who drains the Mug and Sobs.
His Grig seems to have lost its Giggle
down the Grid. His Glum Wits felt as frail,
as fallen through the basement of
a sunken mill to soak with Jenny Greenteeth
in a muddled null of puddled mossy mould, industrial.
I’ve never seen a pastoral that looked so dull.
Hob groans, he
should be home to grow
his long-attenuated Tang for comfort.
Here no thing’ll tingle him.
Hick sticks his sticks in lumps of dampish sand
as if to say, Pudding and Pie! This Odd Existence, I
and my poor bucket! Guess who won
the shouting match twixt Loud and Dumb?.
Thick may feel Proud but chuck it in
a Plop into the ponded scum or skim
a stone over the leaden sea.
Yon sleepers could be stifled
in a lack of noise like this but for the slapping rough-cast
from a bucket with a trowel, on the wall.
More bad ideas get stranded in the bin.
It just pops in aslant across a door:
“Hey up lad Mick, thou looks so badly,
like thy mother’s mangled laundry drooped along
the wash-house floor. You should have seen me in
the poetry of Roger Langley , hanging out
with washing in a drying wind, or making up
wee selves within a veritable
a scientific botany of verbiage
or Flora of the mind.”
Clovers even under Cleavers, calling
Milkmaids Lady’s Smock in richer ditches
sprouting Cresses, Stitchwort meaning
far more words than thought
to water your Wild Parsley, Hogweed, Parsnip,
under-widths of all the Umbelliferae
with hay-shades in the shed where Hedge
takes Bedstraw, Mustard, Parsley: Parsley!
who so well combines
the hooked fruit spines with hairy style,
and petty Spurges exhibit their glands and horns;
where Honeysuckle sucks up Wicken, and the Woodbine
looks enthralled with Aquilegia, as columbined
with Jack the Hedge as Garlic Mustard
doing herbal-verbal flustered says quite bold
that Spirits seasonally rise and fail though
lagging Bindweed’s ever yet entrailed
about the lovely Crumbling Fold of Running Wild.
that I read? Is Hodge
The Master dead? I thought I heard
what Peter Riley said rise from a simper
to a wail, and thought I saw the bird-like
spirit-imp of mischief, Man Jack ipse, sat
upon a doorstep with a spotted handkerchief
before his face, and a discarded hat.
How could a heart like Roger's fail
with such a knave as Jack to set the pace?
The case is grave, and yet it's not too glib to state
that through observant wit, throughout the poetry
of R.F. Langley, the spirit lives.