Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Poetry: Jeremy Cronin

I met this gentleman, a white South African Communist who spent seven years in prison under the apartheid government's Terrorism Act, while I was in Cape Town; he was by that time a member of Parliament (as I believe he still is). My copy of Inside and Out, from which I'm taking this poem, is signed, "To [Ammegg], In the struggle for the desirable -Jeremy Cronin Jan. 2003." I no longer recall the conversation that led to that distinction, but it must have been amazing.

Jeremy Cronin

Now in your cockpit
from your pilot's seat within
test the distant parts of this machine.
Take the tongue-tip and feel up
there, just
behind your upper front teeth
the ribbed shoal that runs back and up
to a solid arch of bone.
Beyond, slide along the soft velum's central crease
peeling back on your tongue's joy stick
until you touch
the stem from which depends
a strange
perhaps forbidden fruit aaaah!
say aaaaah!
working the throttles of your glottis.
And now
to cool a while
let the tongue untwine
returning to its berth.
Let lip touch lip
hmmmmm, mmmmm.
Flick the switch to In
then Out: these
being the two prevailing winds.

Are all systems go?
- Good.
Then let flesh be made words.


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