The worst kind of interruption

This is not an automatic post, this is as the title describes. A woman I knew died today. She was one of the ones we didn’t want to lose. She never published the below as far as I know—where on earth would you? I don’t know if it was even finished—and I think that was a shame. I think she’d probably have forgiven me for doing it for her, and if she might take offence, quod absit, I would tell her that it is because I want other people to recognise that we’re the poorer without her now, if I only could tell her.

It’s long. I don’t care and I hope you won’t.

Historica irreverentia

Like all things that live, languages evolve.
Words are born, reworked, remade, and dissolve.
Sing, Savage! harsh fire forged words clumsy
Und archaic, complex because unrefined:
Thick tongued scald in rough furs; rotten teeth:
He who sang song when Hengest sailed Swan’s Way,
Broke with magic British blades at fated Mons,
The bear wolf’s legacy: Britannia delenda.
Saxons, gray Woden’s sons, rule the ruins
In Wessex, Sussex, Essex, Mercia.
A rough roll like oars they speak: Sea rhythm.
Then angle angels urged the Latin north,
Crude Kings convert; the cross, Christ, reign restored.
Written word undermines original form.
Gloriam en excelsis Deo Roma.
Alfred, sweet Alfred, St. Alfred: He reigns.
(And it rains, it rains, it rains, oh it rains)
The kingdom unites, fights, thwarts pagan Danes.
Then Christian Dane, Confession, a last lone herald.
When Northman of France, surly brute barons his host,
Hastening after the doomed herald,
Takes the land, makes himself lord.
Writes up for taxes a domesday book.
Le roi: Je ne parle pas anglais.
Je deteste la lingua de l’angletterre.
E por um cen anos, anglais e fim.
Ivanhoe, who can know, robbing who’d dare
Cross the Saxon forest, merry made fair
In the sheer wood for rest, robin’s gay song.

Then troubadours, then April shoots.
Songs and midterm unrestrained.
Ballyoke end brickhaven forswore
Brooch ballybeg shitten nos hauses flur.
Lo Malory, lo frog, lo cult, lo sooth, forsooth,
Choose her to forceth the way, they write, aye,
nat und die, nat und die, hey nonny nonny.
Roi frogs are Throne, queer Lyon; Fool
John ‘lows “bar bar” barons t’cart him
Off the throne: No more French, “bar bars” the sound!
Christ’s swounds, Black Prince a tuppence, sack
Heaved forth from Poitiers vincas: Rank smells.
Brook bally beg shitten hon hauses flur.
A sheerer shooteth forth fresh arrows in a reel:
Coz he wins his suite agin en cort,
La guerra, Prince Hal on honeymoon
Rides a french phile, gallops her right good.

E Henri e Henri e Henri end
Henry Und Henry and Henry and
End Henry: To dare through perlous Roses ran,
son bulloxing a primate. At last. Rebirth.

Reaction: Construction like court ritual bound
The words, that’s the way, we PROTEST!
Marchon, iamb angry in my ire,
Papists, Puritans, art punks: Give
Me a muse to fire the brands, the blades:
Bloody Mary, not quite a drink, dungeons loves.
Faery Queen, Virgin Mean, Elizabeth, dodges loves.
Shake spears against the damned balladeers
Dragon sea men, armed ah mite moor, the
Damned diego drive by petulant wind
Making safe the nation of shopkeepers,
And preserves in violence, love, lovely,
Our beloved bard: Belittles the law courts
A bugger, shylock, o is he, fixer
Of the tongue, his pen a soldier’s nail, like
An impious wretch publicly punished.
And James, damned James, witch crazed
Scotsman, poser, posits a new Bible,
The King James edition, confusion:
“Aye, but no mur Romish confession.”
Bad translations, tis all; damned Puritans
Making for a crazy britches broil, boil.

On Johnson: On Donne: Then Royal Victims.
Ship tax! Shit tax! Parles Parliament.
Long hairs beware, frog infected chevalier!
Draw muskets, crack cannon: Barroom! Brawl!
Ironsides, horse’s ass, he taketh all.
O Charles, you jest last yer bloomin’ hed!
Bloody right – Write on – Come Cromwell:
Bloody hell: Well. Rape our land, ire: Suggest:
Make those damned Scotsmen our unwelcome guests.
Restore amor, the petty bard, the lecher pard:
Jacobites, Jackasses, Mary men, all.
And oh geez, oh geez, come: Whose on their knees?
Und nein, und nein, we’ll then hector George
After that wooden shooed bitch of Orange
Und Hanover the throne to beer bellies,
A flatulent Konig de Grosser, nein!

Und Jorg und Jorge and George –
Sharp, sharp, the King, the King.
Through popes swift de nasty runs over,
Novel monarch absolute, “de foe,” overcomes;
de massa ez her – de slaves, slaves afar
Porch nickers and tae makers, Jimstown boys.
Hellfire and Brimstone: John Edwards bitches abroad
While the Prince wails a new booty: wine bottles
To keep count of conquests, our noble knight,
Planting the Royal Standard, England’s Pride,
In virgin dark territories: Empire!
Impale: that vaunted club of great nations.
‘Tis a lecherous age: Sin the reward
And the wage: the new capitalist age.
Whigs and damned torries scream, shout –
Billy Pitt, bully pit – they sing right loud:
Damn war, injuns, hindoos, frogs, paddies, shit!
Charlie pissed in the paddie, but not
The Apocalpyse Now paddie, crikey!
Wrong country, wrong century, wrong Charlie.
Lie down, croppies, lie down, damned papist pigs!

And in Nord Amerigo, planters,
Puritans, rednecks, roughnecks, denial boones,
Revolt, rebirth, 1760’s spirit.
Ma monees ma own, niggaz stoln far en
Squar – they cotton rail fast, so says
The cracker Carolina don…
Right so, says the merchantman cross clasper,
Rum dealers, rum deal: England Raw!
Raw makes war, the Rock (Plymouth) would shore know!
And those vagabond shoes start walkin’ tall,
Frozen Bluecher’s bastards, blue coats valley,
Forge on a nation, niggers redmen beddammed.
Frankly: Fuck off, for all Congress would care.
Makin’ ‘Mericans, no niggers need apply…
To spite a Mad German’s royal eye.
Washing done: Ah do declare, ma teeth done
Went and rot out on mae. Gawdammit.
Guess ah’ll be pater por ma new cunt tree.
Constitutional games are the rage,
Strange Speakers and Misters strut the new stage.
Ogle on the dollar, the seal, no cross.
To think it might have been a dammed turkey.
Oh imperial clucker, gobble all
And well this new amerigo round,
From sure to shining sure, complacent
In the many fast destinies of
A swindling crew who never knew dolors
That they might not take or screw.


And here the parle’s parse, divide, separate
Across the green Atlantic Divide
Which Melville’s Great White Dick will fiercley ride,
Chasing after Hawthorne’s Puritan hide.
While Nelson and Napoleon get cross.
Coleridge, Wordsworth, smoke opium with pride,
Kooky khans all, romans, prudence, condemned.
Emerson! emerson! The water’s fine!
Po’ man in the south, raven rabies mad.
There’s more to go, trans zen dance; the wide world.

Amerigo Round

And Loose Anne, Jeff bought her sweet valleys cheap,
Though he dunks “denuts en dark coffee” with sweet
Sassy Sally Hemings, hemming, hoing:
Ain’t no thing but the chickenwing.
No more grits, no more chittlins for her an
Them creme kolor chilluns, they had good food,
For Sally learned to eat some lean white meat.

(Elise White, 5 March 2001. RIP.)


9 responses to “The worst kind of interruption

  1. My condolences, Jon.

  2. Wren Truesong

    We are indeed much the poorer for loss of such a poet-historian, all unknowing. Thank you for sharing a little bit of her with us.

  3. Thankyou, people. I couldn’t say I was close to her but I do feel quite strongly that we’ve been robbed. That kind of feeling is easier once shared.

  4. I’m sorry Jon, I truly am. My condolences.

    As for publication: Heroic Age. Seriously. That’s good stuff for our Forum. If you or her family or significant other or whomever would like to edit some up, I’ll entertain publishing them. Kind of like Greece and Rome does poetry based on its subject matter or modern translations of ancient poetry. Just thought I’d float the idea past you.

    • I have no idea who has command of the estate, but when my most obvious contact with the situation is a bit more stable, I’ll at least ask. Thankyou for the kind words, also.

  5. highlyeccentric

    Oh, wow. I had to read that a little bit at a time over several days, and wow.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • I think it’s most impressive from the USA. I’m sure I’m not getting half of it and if she were still alive I would tax her sorely about “Emerson! Emerson! The water’s fine”, which I didn’t spot first time round, but, all the same, I love it. More people needed to see it.

      • highlyeccentric

        By the way, I directed the Dreamwidth poetry community over here last week, as an addendum to a regular post. Since, as you say, more people need to read it.

        Have you tried reading it aloud? I read the first couple of stanzas to my housemate, and, aside from clunking as I tried to change accents, it reads *beautifully*

        • I admit that out loud I haven’t read it all through. The author was from Atlanta Georgia, and though as you can see she spoke the language pretty darn well no matter what Tom Lehrer may have said, there are just some vowels in the European and slave accents that I can’t imagine how she’d have inflected. Brings home how little time I’d spent with her, alas.

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