Ken Babstock

Three Poems

The Plural of Unconscious, or Painting The Forth Bridge

Single example in the OED of its use
                                          being owned, at least,
by a volitional subject, is Norman
                                           Mailer, of all people, havering,
‘but that may be my
unconsciouses speaking.’

Living ten flights up, the sky’s traffic
                                           comes to displace street
level stuff, the raptors, bush planes,
                                           passenger jets,
pigeons and orange fire
balls NE to SW over Scarborough.

They activate the canvas’s upper third,
                                           enviably chalky northern
light rinses the middle strip, and children’s
                                           screams, deprived as they are
of transitional objects, buoy up
the base from down here.

We’ve learned in the past, haven’t we,
                                           to mark how
usage warps held belief. Warped
                                           or mistaken usage bakes
belief into the user as raisins
into despicable loaves

of un-bread. Unchecked, we’re eyeing the bedouin
                                           in the cassoulet. Tying flogged
friars to a bull’s rack before salting the tinker’s
                                           dray horse. Chiellini, not
Keano, has the face of a condottiere;
Roy’s is that of a galloglass, as a friend

put it, in her key note at Caius College. Who doesn’t
                                           enjoy putting Alan fucking
Bennett in his place? Lemons weigh
                                           green on lemon trees between
Monterosso and Riomaggiore. Olives
in ground nets. The Via del’ Amore

taken by landslide in 2011—small losses.
                                           You may feel, in your Eureka
Jump Seat, time is on your side
                                           but have a look at Rod Stewart
now. Where are the faces who tore
at our youth as hawks

into possum? Not vacationing
                                           on the Bosporus, I’d wager.
My brother contracted scabies, leaving the
                                           ringworm to me. Shocked
twin chimps opening green
hymnals until service let out.

The green bled out. Gram stains
                                           ID’ing what type of cells
we’d be, or become whatever pathogenetic
                                           later strain. May all
Christendom remember them.
And genuflect, as Beck might do

at the loss of even one plectrum
                                           from the shark’s smile
biting into the chrome of a mic stand.
                                           You may think I meant Jeff.
I didn’t. No one did. The strobes
and engrams have an effect.


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