AUGUSTUS YOUNG        light verse, poetry and prose

  a regular webzine of new and unpublished work


Early Days at the Movies


Real Women in
the Movies

Just Kidding

The Seventh Art's Seventh Heaven

So What Happened




Choses Vues



 On Not Changing a Word in an Old Poem

‘Zastrugi’ is the shape of the sand on the shore made by the ocean.
I thought it was the sirocco flying over the waves. I was wrong.
So I must retrace my poem ‘Learning to Swim in Sicily’.
But a ‘sand storming sea’ doesn’t sound half as good to me,
since it was about coming on a body on a coral reef
while diving, an unsolved mystery, shocking beyond belief.
Maybe I should stick to the word as a gnostic that reveals all.
The writings on the dunes clearly outlined when the sea has withdrawn.  


Zastrugi Movie

A Dream, 18 December 2006

I’m again in Barravento -
a Bahian beach that you went to
when life was as it was meant to
be. Modesto’s youth was ill-spent
here as the turtle gigolo. 

The sea is on the horizon.
And the sand is white with the sun. 

‘Cachaça is Modesto’s muse’,
said Jairo, who’d forgot cashews,
and went back for them and limäo.
‘And his poems are caipirinhas.’
Crossing the dunes he took off his shoes. 

The sea is on the horizon.
And the sand is white with the sun.

Modesto was loved by everyone.
including himself. His life’s re-run
in Glauber Rocha’s first movie. Handsome,
beachcomber who has never done  
a day’s work. By night he did some. 

The sea is on the horizon.
And the sand is white with the sun. 

‘Caipirinha is the divine
drink, and I, Modesto, have refined
how it’s made. You cut the iced lime
on the edge of the glass. Raw rum
absorbs it. It works everytime.’  

The sea is on the horizon.
And the sand is white with the sun. 

Oscar Niemeyer at High Noon
understood the design of dunes
by way of Mies’s ‘almost nothing’.
Once the force of nature’s withdrawn
what’s left seems like the unborn. 

The sea is on the horizon.
And the sand is white with the sun. 

The architecture of the strand
is not constant. The tide repands
over the desert, and dry land
disappears. Jairo, empty hand-
ed comes back. Modesto’s unmanned.  

The sand is on the horizon.
And the sea is white with the sun. 

Between the Door and the Hinge

After Brecht’s Entdeckung an einer jungen Frau

The morning after standing on the stair,
politely parting, bored to death in fact,
I saw a gray streak in her new combed hair
and touched her breast, a quite spontanous act.
‘Why don’t you go now? You’re like all the rest
who take me in the dark, and leave at first light.’
Distracted by her dressing-gown’s distress,
I think she might be worth another night. 

What can I say? ‘I’ll call you.’ Hypocrite.
‘Let’s talk again’, would hardly be a tribute.
‘I’m attracted to you when you look a sight.’
I bite my tongue. She hates me. I’m a man.
Words dry in me as longing drains my spit.
‘I’m going off’, I blurt. ‘You’re not. I am.’   

All Souls Together: Poem for Toussaint, 2006

‘L’homme pense. Dieu rit.’

‘I’m just back from a trip to heaven with Malebranche.
It’s not good news. We offered God the olive branch.
Though the divine philosophy was noblesse
itself, God’s not going to get us out of the mess
we’ve got ourselves into - that’s the new world ordure
of bombing and shopping, and law and disorder
(break the law, and ordering up lots of weapons
paid for by rebuilding what you destroy).’ ‘Cretins!’
said God. ‘Let them stew. And tell them to stop using
my name in vain, or I might find it amusing
to cut off the pipelines which fuel (it’s no joke)
the pollution that has their cities in a choke.’

Oui, mon Dieu’, said Malebranche. ‘It’s time for man to attend
to one another, not as a means to an end,
but as an end in itself. Their imagination needs to adjust
to reality.’ Feeding his pet plague of locusts,
God says, ‘You’re a good man, but you don’t know men.
‘Attention is the prayer of the soul’ won’t sing for them.’ 
‘God is not mocked, but He likes to mock’, said my sage.
‘He has the best interest at heart for the present age.
But the withholding of manna means we’ll have to make do
as best we can.’ ‘Fast foods’, I said. ‘That’s nothing new.’
‘I like this malbouffe’, says Malebranche, over a Big Mac.
‘Keeps body and soul together. Good to be back.’

Down in the town the dead souls and their next of kin,  
co-exist in the best of all possible worlds. Sin-
ers redeem themselves, and, as saints, are marching through
the town - women in white, the men in black. They queue
for wreaths, and soon will descend in waves
of stately sorrow, to flower their loved ones graves
with sentimental chrysanthemums and dads,
and cactuses for uncles who went to the bad.
What’s trotting through their minds who can say?
‘There’s a lot to be said for plastic bouquets.
Money and time saved, and they last.’ ‘Potted plants in urns
would be truer to the natural law’, say the worms.

‘You’re worse than God’, said Malebranche. ‘So judgmental.’
And I’m duly chastened. ‘Bras de Vendre’s doing well’,
I say. ‘It’s the flowers I hate more than people.
At first they smell so good and then it’s all down hill.
The folk I know are having sympathetic thoughts.
And, even though the world outside is out of sorts,
they’re always in a good humour, doing what they can
in practical ways to make a more human
life for themselves and those around them too.
Even Monsieurs (‘c’est un bordel’) Bols and Manigu.’
‘I trust God’s listening’, says Malebranche,’in His heaven.’
‘Believe me, I am’, God laughs. ‘That is the problem.’    

Learning Not To Drown

 My mother taught me how to swim,
something I love. She pushed me in,
fed up with waiting for the toe
to touch the water. This I know,
without her helping hand I’d be
still fearful of a raging sea.

My father taught me how to float.
He made himself into a boat
for me to bask in, to and fro,
but he was loath to let me go.
That’s why I cannot float through life
with arms stretched out. I can jack-knife.

Yet neither taught me how to sink
into the deep, and not to drink
the waters. How to hold one’s breath
to stop at source the cause of death,
and surface up where oxygen
returns you to the world of men.