Jacket 32 — April 2007        link Jacket 32 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

Robert Sheppard

Sonnets from September 12

13 Madrid

Burn friendlies on the wreck of human
terror the body of the people O!
Erato! scorched by the blaze of blue-on-blue

Eye witness. The same railway station. We.
Search out the others’ errant gunshots

Enchanting for democracy O! Muse you wing it
for shepherds sporting iambic lambs on
the platform so enthralled by Love bo-
peeping his fluttery sonnet in Venus’ softest target I

miss my earthly transport, and survive. No
golden glove thrusts from the dust. Erratum
for Erato: Nobody drops into the same
device twice. Human error. Petrified watch. Our
sponge of blood drips into the same device forever


14

WHO OWNS YOUR FACE? IT FLESHES
ON ALL OUTWARD EYES SIZING YOU

SONNET X PULLED OUT BETWEEN THE STOPS,
LABIALS IN THE LABYRINTH: ORPHIC RESONANCE
AROUND THE RINGING TUBE, OR FICKLE ERATO
TICKLING THE LOVESTICK POCKET

REFERENCE TO X IS A REFERENCE TO THE SUBJECT
MATTER OF THIS POEM. X, TRUE AT THE TIME
OF PUBLISHING, HAS NOT GIVEN PERMISSION. UP.
ESCAPE FROM THIS SMOULDERING FACT. TURN
AGAIN SO IT MIGHT SMILE BACK AND NOT BOIL DOWN TO

A POLLUTED POOL OF TABLOID MYTH, OR RISE AS
A PILLAR OF SMITHEREENS SUCKED BY GERMS.
X PLAYS IN YOUR EYES, SMARTING


15

Every dark is tighter, as each prescriptive
joy is held in check: precipitous release
without charge. Domestic advert for a bidet a long
mirror a civilisation. Just look at yourself

Watch what you’re doing a rule with no game
in the front room you’re on your back on
your own behind these friendly lines’ prosthetic whine.
You empty yourself in a way to make you
you, and catch her foiling stare as you nebulate

Even now you unspeak a tongue
holed up in history’s traffic, to assemble
grid-locked love bits at her tightening lips

Sex selving a sonnet for her for making
love is making love is making love is


17

‘Shut the Fuck up!’ the Ambassadors of
Democracy chorus across blind windscreens.
Weak knees assume that law’s single statute

Saddam is the bouquet in their dustbins.
Their heavily guarded statements eulogise
his swimming trunks flapping from a tree,
the colossal wreck of his white Oldsmobile

                    *

‘He could be fun! He knew some poems
about the loved and un-level sands

how God might permit him to turn America
into a shadow of itself. He borrowed men
with borrowed guns to chant his
homemade poem: “To her Doom she sails,
clothed in Great Illusion       too close to home


19

Dissensus-uncensored citizens their post-fluidarity
Jams the geodesic sepulchres of GCHQ

The ballet of chatter threatens the iron triangle
A-theism in-corporates the earth’s blown powder
But resistance to existential terror within
Microquakes at neo-feudal controls
Quivers flesh contra the Universal Event

Military ground aches with mediatized Odes
While secular fatwas begin the law of rules
Territorialized apostrophes in the dead mouths of victors

We are in love with Eros and you with a suitcase
Dirty device crafted by cells O! new
Selves unresolved on a new war footing
Self-made utopias              draped in black


20

He breaks off to listen to the
news. Standing at the top
of the stairs he catches
the muffled litanies of because
we can because… . Eros-

ion of other people’s liberties
he is coerced to give up. He’s
given up himself a unilateral

suspension of sovereign operations.
In his refrain of terror ‘we’ is more than
twice his love story. In most respects
he’s an ordinary citizen. He cannot wait

for his promised ID card to stamp out who
he is, twinkles stolen from his lustrous eyes


21

Watch how they leave their scream-shot
meat in global entunement
to ID-spasms, pushing their a-
symmetric war chants, these Poets

followed by the Errant. They spew
narcissistic compassion for the As-Yet
-Invisible-Event, without purchase. They

celebrate redemptive sublimity in the shaking of
captive beards raked with bristling electrodes… .

My other’s Other is my enemy, forcing
twitters of war within skin-selves. Organs
without bodies crack bone codes, take
on the shades of Immortal Animals. The a-
theistic body screws its tools down to earth


22

Self-othering hood Klans one’s unbecoming
the obsolete body art of choreographed excess
a video diary that couldn’t care more or less

Floating on flesh-hooks in betweenness aloft
who licks the blinding gusset of combat knickers

kicks a pile of fleshly rags shovelled by rubber-
necking rednecks? Instead of thumbprints
they press sweat-stains into the dustiest corners.
A body regime splintered by such loving
inhabits what it shall never possess

A barbed obscenity haunts for an extra ear
the parasitic cyborg whose hearts and minds
surrender to the body’s self-absorption.
Under the hood maggots nest like emotion


23

Eros
rose reso-

             lved made love unselved into lover or l-
oser, whom-
so’er Erato emboldened head to head with death.
Accelerated amnesia in the face of hysteric
obsession. A suspended sentence in favour

of pre-cautionary ends. That secretly invites Doom
as the terminal Event that will make it make
sense you know it makes sense. Sensing
a nuisance fact unfolds historic succession… .

‘There will be no more… .
                           ’Security reports… .
         ’For security reasons… .


24

Through slatted blinds you spy another
writing a stuttery scrawl of spidery infringement.
You chisel each other into pedestal fear,
nailed to combat mottoes, slashed
and slotted in your mirror-script encryption

You’re unknown unknowns, improper nouns
once announced in a Cold War Nuke Ode.
Same-selved you live: dead meat on the other’s
plate garnished with knowns, lashed to the past

Sirens sing at the fringes of your passage.
Sleep plunders the sickly green of paramedics
under shutters. History was yesterday

In the live moment splintering between two deaths
invade this single body and unblade the truth

Earlier parts of this sequence may be read at:
http://www.shearsman.com/pages/magazine/back_issues/shearsman67_68/sheppard.html

Number 17 was published in Todd Swift’s Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on anthology; see
http://toddswift.blogspot.com/2006/09/nearly-90-poets-from-around-world-are.html