This is not a poem for lovers or those whose heartlines are as fruitful as orchards across the easy plain of their contentment.
It is not a poem for the boys lying in the shade of the fig tree, bronze objects provocative in their naked idleness; though a smile passed between us like an iron flower and they must have returned home with blood and leaves on their chests.
It is not a poem that will by any stretch of the imagination create an asylum for migrants, painters and guitar players, polite romantics stumbling at an uncivilized hour through the corridors of a smudged hotel. Nor for the bureaucracy of minor passions.
It is not a poem for the organza girl, fatal as a newly purchased knife, succulent as the sugarcane she peeled with her teeth, the lunar glance of whose intentions only the stained blue windows of her house can interpret. We all have known a moment like this.
It will not salute the solitary waiters dancing in the milky green smog of cheap tubelights, homeless as crumbs on the tables they have wiped all day, despised – though freshly barbered – by our girls who in another place, if they were another race, would not tolerate such loneliness in men without doing something about it. Send this report to the missionary who fell in the river and later fell into the lake of his zeal for a land and a woman until the hard rain of exile washed him away and he died, as much a fool as when he began.
It is not a poem for Jacob who loved but for Esau who was hated, who was not far-sighted, who we remember as a neolithic gunslinger, bottle-sucker and hairy forerunner of malcontents who now trawl the epiphytic roots of cyberspace searching for the penultimate good bomb.
This is not a poem to be stuffed in the tinfoil of an aborted ideology, stuffed into zippered bags and manhandled at airports and international boundaries like a potential terrorist, stuffed in a fat tapioca leaf and digested along with television spume and academic chins.
It is not a poem that heroically claims to revive the dead, convert the tattooed, feed the pigs, do the laundry waiting at the start of day and search for the perfect button with a scholar’s perseverance. Thread and needle at the ready.
It will not commemorate the last noisy supper of pop songs and salted beer on a black hill disgorged of its warm minerals.
Nor is it a poem dedicated to alien supergrass, tropical markets overloaded with avocados and caterpillars, French saints carved from soap – those who have pressed from the metal tub of phrases and historical bad behaviour such wine that it shamed the honeymaking stones. It is not for them.
Nor will it take its stand with those who protest at the oiled guns of democracy and those who think they park in a free speech zone and those who denounce the stockpile of mass ethics polished in antiseptic factories of faith; because only birds are democratic, free and possess faith.
Nor is it a poem whose location can be found in calendars, whose trajectory calculated by the speed of solar wind and the congruent angles in a Gregorian month where reality and justice can meet.
It is a poem celebrating the impossibility of arrival and the necessity of violence, because these too are constants of the whole sad untelevised truth.
It is a poem that has agreed to conspire against itself
For to write a poem against love you must first have written a poem about love
You must have sought beyond yourself a moment’s refuge from your own life, you must have leaned to smile at a sudden reflection in the bruised glass.
Above all this poem is not for you or about you
even though I am jealous of the widowed city that holds you in her embrace and surrounds you with her calm ambitions, her talent for disguise, her politic summers
It is not a poem that will speak of the things for which we have no remedy:
time unclassified vertebrate, linear, possibly humorless
distance when unpinned from gravity, repents the tyranny of maps
the body’s betrayals
I know what this string of jasmines and these overturned chairs want to tell me
I know if I should kiss you
your mouth would taste of love and whiskey.
Mona Zote is an amazing young poet. She reads European literature especially French and German, and particularly admires the poetry of St John Perse.