By Jon Stocks
The Montréal Review, March 2011
Thursday 7 Down, by Ben McLauglin, 2009, oil on panel, 4.5 x 6.75 inches. (At Heskin Contemporary, NYC)
The moon rises behind the tall birch trees,
They shiver in the coolness of evening,
Bend gently with the first, frost tinged breeze.
From a deep distance a muffled voice calls,
Like a cry of mourning or deep regret,
The wind moans, a scattering of leaves fall.
In the darkness, a shuffling blind badger,
Is seeking a soft bed to die alone,
A measured drift to oblivion;
Under the indifferent glint of stars,
As so many other lives are passing,
Whilst others arise into wonder,
Leaving the black light of the womb behind.
In the holly bush, the last bird singing
Of eternity, immense hopelessness,
Of light and strange bewildering beauty.
Another fleeting moment seems timeless;
Attuned to the length and breadth of space.
A cottage hooded with pitch and thatch
The black, cat scratched door
The heavy latch
Lanterns glimmering within.
I was sick here once and lay
In your grandmothers bed.
A strange half living thing
Still damp, I assumed
From her own death,
As moist as country loam.
Rain lashed the windows
I ached for my home.
A few hours passed in fever
Tossing, stirring in a cold sweat
And, for the briefest of hours
Fleetingly I belonged here,
Between incense drenched walls,
Gazing at gaudy icons.
Until you came to take me back
Another of life's 'cul de sacs'
On Clearing my drawer
On a day of April light, scalpel sharp
I cleared my draw of receipts, tickets
Of fragments, tiny teardrops of poetry,
Contorted collage of narrative and dreams
Half stifled screams, image and resonance.
It leaked reminiscence, revived
Odd moments from my own mythology,
Dissipated love and death together
Torn, fading scraps, burnished with regret,
Pages shivering with souls deceived.
I weeded it in stages, discarding,
Deep piles, all except the most assured,
Marginalia, the rest just tossed,
Falling easily, like loves confetti,
Into the shredder of oblivion.
One day you will rise and know
How beautiful you are,
Why heads turn when you walk in the room
And male eyes gaze, entranced.
One day you will realise
How your soul can glow,
Bloom with mystery;
Then draw from a well of wishes
A dazzle of ecstatic bliss.
One day you will yearn for something
Scarcely known or understood,
Then ache with torment; transient sorrows,
Feel the first ice of terrible regret
Of losing joy, too beautiful to own.
One day you will learn
That all good things must end,
That change must craft the shape of lives
With forces beyond the reach of reason.
And one day you will understand love
Be sure of this.