Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's Time for a Poem

I liked this poem by James Lasdun when I found it a few months ago.

Woman Police Officer in Elevator

By James Lasdun

Not that I’d ever noticed
Either a taste or a distaste
For that supposedly arousing
Rebus of pain and desire, the uniformed woman,
Whether as Dietrich in epaulettes,
Or armored like Penthesileia, or in thigh boots
And cocked hat, straddling the Atlantic,
Fishing for campesinos
With live torpedoes,

But when the rattling, john-sized
Tenement elevator paused
Mid-fall to blink a female housing cop
Into its humid cranium, I felt her presence
Spooling through me like a Mobius strip,
Splicing her spilling curls, nightstick, the gun at her hip,
Chrome shield, the breast it emblazoned,
Seamlessly into the same
Restless continuum …

I caught – was it possible? –
The scent of some sweet-tinctured oil;
Troubling, alluring; and looked away
The glanced back obliquely: had I imagined it,
The sudden scimitar-glint of danger,
Or had some forbidden impulse – longing, lust, anger –
Tumid inside me like a hidden
In a schoolkid’s lunch pack,

Triggered the blue-lashed, tiny
Metal detector of her eye?
I backed against my corner, watching
The numerals slowly swallow their green gulp of light;
Interminable! And as we fell,
Our little locked cube of stale air seemed to bristle
With a strange menace … I thought of harms;
My own and not my own,
Contemplated or done;

Betrayals, infidelities,
Coercions, seductions, lies,
Ready to confess them all, and more,
As if in her firm indifference she’d regressed me
Inward down some atavistic line
To the original essence, the masculine
Criminal salt; a frieze of victims
Paneled in my own skull
Like a lit cathedral hell …

A shudder, and then stillness;
Avoidance of each other’s eyes
As in some bedroom fiasco’s wake,
The air too brimful with disclosure, till the door
Opened and we parted, the clamped rift
Between us widening like a continental drift
Of the sexes; she to the butcher, the breaker,
The ripper, the rapist,
I to my therapist.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

London's Burning

There has been a significant riot in the Tottenham area of London overnight. It started as a protest over the

shooting death of a 29-year-old man by the Metropolitan Police

and it seems despite many riot police, police on horseback and in helicopters, rioters had the upper hand for some hours and:
[a]n enormous fire raged in a blocklong building, with no sign of police or fire department intervention, even while residents raced to drive their cars away as the building’s windows exploded and glass rained down on them. Giant fires raged in alleys, unabated.

Up From Zero

Things are changing, finally, at what I hope will one day go back to being known as just the World Trade Center. Photo above by Jake.
The New Yorker's big piece on How They Got Bin Laden ends with this vignette, of Obama thanking the SEAL team:
Before the President returned to Washington, he posed for photographs with each team member and spoke with many of them, but he left one thing unsaid. He never asked who fired the kill shot, and the SEALs never volunteered to tell him.

(The photograph and slightly unfortunate title above both come from the New York Review of Books blog).