By Leonard Nolens
Field preachers got high on hammers
And sickles and jerked us off with their mouths.
And dockers sung themselves hoarse in the throttling weepie
Of the whole world in one pair of hands.
Priests chided the church to the workplace
And worked the conveyor belt there too.
We were the cowards. We saw only later the daring
Of our lonely gangway, no Trotsky can airbrush us out
In the sordid deceit of international scrums.
Only our grieving bodies had the impact
Of life-like slogans. We were silent rhetorically.
We had no power but the force of our inertia.
We formed a mass confluence of absences
Onto the public platform. We never signed
Another’s manifestos, we hid
Our singular signal under a bushel.
We measured our future with the daily suicide
Of Chamfort and Jos de Haes, we reached out to each other
Across the graves of our children’s children.
We studied the busy pride of boredom
And swore by a conspiracy of the aloof.
We would not be pacified, would not be screwed
By a deluge of smart shit, we stayed as penniless
As these poems, letters scattered like ashes.
© Leonard Nolens
© Translation Paul Vincent
Leonard Nolens will discuss his work with his English translator Paul Vincent at the Poetry Cafe on 26 September at 7.30.