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Mind and Body

by James Graham 

Posted: 01 September 2003
Word Count: 262

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Mind and Body

It used to be a baker's; and then what?
Health foods and meditation? My curiosity
too idle, and the parking spaces taken,
I never bothered to find out. Today,
it's out of business. Strange

that a thing so merely in a corner of the eye,
no former marriage-house or place of meeting
- even once only - some remembered face,
should summon such a crowd;

but even before the lights they were
unquestionably there: Altair, Jerusalem,
Sirius, Dresden, Vega, Troy

(and other lots in time and space,
none less remarkable than another):

the ancient starlight of lost multitudes, broadcast signals
from the Roman wheelwright, or the shipwright of Piraeus:
patient, expectant messages that having travelled through
both clear and cloudy ages, are now received at last, again,
uncomprehendingly, here in the studios of this anarchic city;
received much later than the signaller intended, who long ago

flamed out in pain, or whose light spirit,
collapsing into heavy bones, went out.

Anarchic skull-bound city,
its stores and workshops crowded high
in airless density, its hinterlands
unmapped and sinister,

that grows so quickly thronged
with transient poor, and purposeful
with communistic dreams: after its day

- the last call-signal started on its way,
the briefest, without the unsortable junk,
the casual mysteries of windblown paper,
street-faces and abandoned shops -

after its day, no record but the fading
word, the mouldering bones. Well,
as it happens, this is where

the winking hearse will pass, smartly towards
the boneyard on the right. And Mind and Body
will be something else by then.

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 19:13 on 01 September 2003  Report this post
This poem was first published at ForPoetry.com (editor, Jacqueline Marcus).

I'd hoped to upload another in my 'wired to the moon', Martian-sends-a-postcard-home series (see comments on 'Buying Tobacco in Spain') but like smelly cheese they take a while to mature.


Ioannou at 21:18 on 01 September 2003  Report this post
Love the fact I'm sending out signals now that will travel for eons after my lifetime. Imagery cool. The harsh sounding lines 'skull-bound anarchic city,' just beautiful. But not sure really about the poem's title. Love, Maria.

James Graham at 15:51 on 03 September 2003  Report this post
Maria, thank you for your enthusiastic comment. I think that's the first time a poem of mine has been described as cool! The title is just the name of the local shop that I kept passing in the car but never found out what business it was doing, and then it closed down after a few weeks. The poem's more about mind than body, I suppose, though it's saying too that in the end the mind and all its business goes the way of the body. It's maybe just too obvious a title, and I'll give some thought to an alternative.


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