A Long Poem by C. John
Most of us like to look back
to our early struggles, to some happy period of marriage, children or
business successes, or simply on the strange course that family
background, career needs and fortune have taken us on. In my case it's
from a quiet suburb in London through the wilder parts of the world to
a small flat in Chile, from a fairly solitary childhood to overseeing
construction gangs in Iran, to a management role in a multinational
company, submissions to learned societies and finally to literary work
that is read across the English-speaking work.
In itself, the
self-indulgence represented by this poem will be of little interest to
anyone, I imagine, but in these chapters I have tried to create a
poetry of a novel sort out of various phases of life and relate them to
astrological features of my natal chart. Those who can read such things
will understand matters at a glance. Those who can't, or would dismiss
the notions outright, can read the quatrains that introduce each
section and simply take them as a one way of making sense of our
perplexing and often chaotic existences.
ARIES RISING (Opening Excerpt)
With Aries as your rising sign you'll
to arduous journeys others will not make:
alone, intrepid, faring on to where
there will be few to even know or care.
I've lived with millionaires, the starving poor,
discoursed with holy men, and had my thoughts
thrown up on science's hard threshing floor.
I've worked with ministers of various sorts,
in foreign embassies have played some role -
as many have, of course, but may allow
for life seen steadily and seen as whole.
It speaks of common purposes that plough
what else is lonely in the fields of men
albeit pointlessness of lives condemn
us make the same commuting trip again.
But yet there's something other, far from them,
which here and unmethodically has come
to this unsettled but not zero sum.
In looking backward now it seems that all
was unexceptional, as though foretold
in end of term reports and held on call:
what jobs apply for, what positions hold,
the girls we'd want to go with, marry, house
that we'd aspire to, moving on at each new
incarnation of a job and spouse,
that grew by increments more out of reach.
I cannot tell you how I hated it,
the cramped respectability, the grubby
getting on towards the wedded bit
of bedroom loud with pummelled bride and hubby.
I opted out and as a late recruit
to corporations took the paid-for route.
Long years would pass, and I would know the high
Iranian plateau with its cragged ravines
that fissured outward to a capstone sky,
the desert lands with their unchanging scenes
of sour-faced desolation, sun-split rocks,
the watercourses twisting flaccidly
to nests of pebbles and their scattered stocks
of sheep or goats, that vast vacuity
we can't encompass, not in one. A land
that once was paradise, a traveller said,
its paths with fruiting boughs so thickly spanned
scarce daylight filtered down from overhead.
So is the world, both mutable and rare
that needs our husbandry and human care.