Apropos of nothing

by | Nov 23, 2009

I love the poetry of John Forbes, and I thought I would share my favourite lines from his eminently quotable, deeply intelligent and sad/funny work:

Death, you’re more successful than America,
even if we don’t choose to join you, we do.
I’ve just become aware of this conscription
where no one’s marble doesn’t come up;
no use carving your name on a tree, exchanging vows
or not treading on the cracks for luck
where there’s no statistical anomalies at all
& you know not the day nor the hour, or even if you do
timor mortis conturbat me.

(from Death, an Ode)

you know Dransfield’s line, that once you become a junkie
you’ll never want to be anything else?
well, I think he died too soon,
as if he thought drugs were an old fashioned teacher
& he was the teacher’s pet, who just put up his hand
& said quietly, ‘Sir, Sir’
& heroin let him leave the room.
(from Speed, a Pastoral)

Old father of the horrible bride whose
wedding cake has finally collapsed, you

spoke the truth that doesn’t set us free –
it’s like a lever made of words no one’s

learnt to operate.

(Ode to Karl Marx)

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