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Poem by Keith Douglas
Shall I get drunk or cut myself a piece of cake, a pasty Syrian with a few words of English or the Turk who says she is a princess--she dances apparently by levitation? Or Marcelle, Parisienne always preoccupied with her dull dead lover: she has all the photographs and his letters tied in a bundle and stamped Decede in mauve ink. All this takes place in a stink of jasmin. But there are the streets dedicated to sleep stenches and the sour smells, the sour cries do not disturb their application to slumber all day, scattered on the pavement like rags afflicted with fatalism and hashish. The women offering their children brown-paper breasts dry and twisted, elongated like the skull, Holbein's signature. But his stained white town is something in accordance with mundane conventions- Marcelle drops her Gallic airs and tragedy suddenly shrieks in Arabic about the fare with the cabman, links herself so with the somnambulists and legless beggars: it is all one, all as you have heard. But by a day's travelling you reach a new world the vegetation is of iron dead tanks, gun barrels split like celery the metal brambles have no flowers or berries and there are all sorts of manure, you can imagine the dead themselves, their boots, clothes and possessions clinging to the ground, a man with no head has a packet of chocolate and a souvenir of Tripoli.
Keith Douglas's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail email@example.com