Thursday 18 June 2020

Spring Journal canto XIII

Here's the canto XIII of Spring Journal by Jonathan. Gibbs.

Followers of this work-in-progress will know that it first appears in four-line stanzas in Tweet form, and the whole 
canto (which runs to about eighty lines) is read - superbly - by the actor/novelist Michael Hughes live on the Friday 
evening Leap. It also appears on Jonathan's dedicated Spring Journal blog, where newcomers, and those of us who 
want to re-visit the earlier cantos, here's a link.

It's a privilege to be able to bring each canto to an audience, and to be living within the timeline of an emerging poem 
that does so much to mediate the onslaught of catastrophic news during - and now, for a time, after - the lock-down.

At this rate the final canto (there will be 24, or XXIV) should appear in A Leap on Friday 28th August. How will 
things be then? Perhaps I'll have figured out how to fix the formatting on this blog.

Here, with Jonathan's kind permission, is canto XIII:


Which things being so… but then that’s the problem:
  For the things that last week seemed ‘so’
Are not so today; the world changes seldom
  And when it does it changes slow,
And last week was anger and pain and confusion
  As the bad old news from before
Broke into the strange new nowhere we’re living in
  And pushed our face to the floor.
And we said hey, we’ve got heads full of graphs and back to school schedules,
  Give us time to take stock,
But they went right ahead and tore down a statue and rolled it
  Into the dock,
And after Colston, Rhodes and Leopold, and a dozen other monuments
  To vicious, powerful men,
Are gone or lining up to go, and shitty little Little Britain’s gone, and
  Should have been gone way back then,
And Minneapolis stands up and shrugs and says it can function
  Just fine without the police,
And our mouths drop open, and the words don’t come, for when we shouted
  No justice, no peace
We missed that the answer was there all along: justice
  Comes from peace. Let people live
Without fear of the knee on the neck or the battering ram;
  Let people conceive
Their own systems of care and support,
  Give them power to arrange
The struts and levers and cogs of their world, but my god!
  So much has to change!
For systems are not statues, to be torn down in moments
  And rolled in the street.
A system like this is a house of many mansions,
  And not all of them en suite.
And while I can say I didn’t help build the house that we live in
  You could say I inherited it,
Or I inherited my room, which is on quite a nice floor, with quite a nice view,
  And no one likes a hypocrite.
For this is the change of the last week: from looking
  Out to looking in
And being looked at: not where do you stand on this or that
  But where does your work begin?
Stop tweeting your support and signing petitions,
  And sewing your heart on your sleeve.
What will happen next in the world will not happen
  Just on the strength of what you believe.
And if intersectionality has a lesson
  It’s not simply that we’ve got to learn
To see in ourselves our constituent elements,
  But how to be seen in turn,
And accept that the circles we draw – so carefully – around ourselves,
  Might be all one from where you sit,
That from there it looks like I’m in the same circle
  As plenty of people I think are just shit.
It’s going to be hard fucking work, long hours and hard labour,
  You can’t do it in poem.
You do it in your place of work, in your village, your town,
  Anywhere that the system
Benefits you, where the system’s your ally;
  It’s not about proclaiming whose back you’ve got,
It’s about looking behind you to see who’s got your back
  Whether you like it or not.
So yes, white privilege has got my back, and racism
  Has got my back too,
And will go in to bat for me each time I walk down the street
  Or into an interview room.
And thank god for the streets, because the world online
  Appals like an open wound,
And when the discourse turns hateful it’s hard to balance
  The need for quiet with the need to be good.
And it’s open the schools, don’t open the schools, open
  The zoos instead,
Who can you fuck, can you go the pub, does your two-metre
  Bubble begin in your head?
And we want this to be over, so we can start pushing the boulder
  Back up the hill to the top,
For Colston, the bastard, is back on his plinth, and needs rolling
  Each day back into the dock.
So tell me where to stand, and sorry you have to tell me,
  But this shit is never going to stop.
Hold me to my expectations, call me out when I’m weak, and most of all
  Tell me when to shut up.

No comments:

Post a Comment