PAUSE

In the plays of Harold Pinter the pause is the true line
Of expression, and the silence the crisis as the characters
Lose where they are. A stance that I echo now, as I
Follow the words of this poem and we scan the horizon

For the next tear in the sky or crashed star. Suddenly,
We are pushed to return, as the homeshell splits all
Around us; confused, uninstructed, egg bound and
Bewildered by the gathering air at the door.

Like still blinded birds in the nest, our wings are yet
To find motion. There is no clear line of action,
So we do all that we can to implore. We stamp
Our feet, we protest and cry to the air for spent spirits

Who will not write or allow us the detail we need
To go on. They will not colour the air, so we have
Only the paled pretence of behaviour, the memory
Of our movements and the dissonance perhaps

Of stopped song. The door is open it seems,
But in passing through we still linger.
Institutionalised in our houses, now our straightjackets
Will start binding the soul through a mask.

The pause between breaths will be felt
As it cinemas across senses, and the endless pause
Of the lockdown and of the world beyond sees
Words clasp. And chrysalis within our own throats.

As someone stopped the progression of all
That was vital, through virus that has come
To rewrite our next act. Harold Pinter predicted
All this. As Prime Poet of the Unsaid, he’s now

Prophet, as the principles he forged around
Menace and his powerplays between people
Have in all contexts become legitimised into fact.
Now, that strange silence looms as we suddenly

Become our own shadows. I have some work today.
Its a motion, that I will start to perform in half light.
As I try to return to myself, after the disastrous
Direction they’ve given. Now we’re all actors.

In a bad play whose construction sees no-one
Of worth fit to write. And so I go on. I feel paused.
I do not move. Now its Beckett. ‘Pull on your trousers,’
As the characters say in Godot. Beckett told his

Characters what to do, down to timing their breath
And their footsteps. Pinter gave no information.
His text is the dice actors throw. These men were
Two artistic parents to me from what seems

Like a perfect time, long subverted. As those
Presently devising us mar and mumble,
Providing misinformation while withholding
All of the actual things we should know.

So we put on our costumes once more
And perform ourselves, numbed and nervous.
Through our screens they observe us, puppets
Of the puppeteered inside theatres that they

Will seek to ensure remain closed. For,
When you are paused the air closes in
All around you. Each step is strapped.
Each breath glass like. What will it be like,

This sad show? Still no-one knows.
Thus, we go. And this wretched pause
Becomes clause as we resign social contracts.
And our former applause remains folded.

Its in their pockets now.

Trouble grows.

 

David Erdos, June 8th 2020


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