Two Poems From ‘Helen in High Definition’

Red Scene 1933-6 Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957



Helen, we descend flagrant
into inclines of dissonance;
Silence is, of all these mouth-
pieces, the most voluble.

It engages in oracular
dispatches from podium &
social-media plinth, hollow
& insatiable, matched by

Gordian-knots of diaspora
too convoluted for this cartographer
to transcribe. Postmodernity
having spliced us into musak

or polyurethane narcissism,
greasy & malingering; &
so we descend to Tiresias,
down to Persephone who, with

her pomegranate fingering, can no
longer warm or bring fecund yields.
Technologia triumphant conducts
sterile rites with an aplomb

‘out of this world’ & to canned
applause, coined encomiums;
as we descend, maimed &
irritable, unable to learn

Calliope’s score by ear, trained
as we are to hermetic cadences,
lurching along obscure gullies
giving creativity over to chance,

broken to satisfaction as a
perfected work of art smarts
with its corrective wounds,
whose inflicting physician

disappears like the demiurge,
where only absolute questions
are allowed to breed & surge
into sublime permutations

deep beneath terra firma.
Here we find ourselves again
in quite different personae:
broken-hearted & broken upon

wheels of bespoke flame.



Burn through pity, Helen,
electrolysise fear; ensure
we are ‘bereft of all companions’
as, purified, we emerge

from deluge & earth tremor.
No need for condolence,
visits to rehab or souvenirs;
we are way beyond somnolence

& the use of prescribed opiates
to anaesthetise. Our horrified
personae are thrust into stage-sets
which deteriorate by design

after their accustomed tranche
of time. For too long
your auditorium has lynched
its flawed protagonists & flung

their corpses into Acheron
where fire gurgles with venom
from bank to bank; you watched
that infernal ballet unfold in such

fashion beneath Trojan walls
& could not blanch. Instead,
you cultivated your pulchritude
which overcame ethos, but appalled

absolutely no-one. Goya’s limbless
bodies were strewn across bough
& stream whilst, shameless,
the fighting became more foul.

I see your Catherine Deneuve
complexion: pale, inscrutable,
tracing its physiognomy of love
& lust which will paralyse

but still leave us purified.
Clearly the demiurge lied
when he charted out matter
with a legerdemain to fritter

away our fear & pity;
to burn through like beauty,
presumably yours, Helen,
of which I still have no notion.


Mark Wilson

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