This week our Friday Poem is taken from Peter Finch’s collection Zen Cymru.
Not one for quiet meditations, Finch’s voice in Zen Cymru is: loud, bewildered, satirical, furious, sad, fearful and funny. This is a Wales that missed its revolution in ‘I Chew Gum and Think of Rifles’. This is a Wales beset by: rain, the ghosts of hard-drinking poets, of holy wells guarded by heifers, of sports crowds, Ikea, sheep, “enormous storm clouds”, and the ‘Entry of Christ Into Cardiff, 2005’.
Finch is a well-known performance poet and his poems have the immediacy and the dramatic impact of pieces conceived for the stage. Formal innovation is allied with themes that are resonant and deeply humane.
Hunting For The Man With Huge Ear Lobes
It’s difficult discussing Buddhism over
whiskey. It makes you laugh.
When you reach the tenets which
concern eternal suffering it’s hard.
I imagine my father here with me. I am
explaining reincarnation but he won’t
have any of it. I am no returned wood louse,
he insists. The bottle on the table
between us is going down at a terrific rate.
We aren’t anything, says my father,
any of us, and when we go it’s just
dark, you can’t figure it, can you?
He’s drunk, my father,
he waves his hands, this is how it is.
My father tells me alcohol is best consumed
lying down. Less chance of hurting
the living. We try this. His face still has that
lopsided look it had when I last saw him
flat-out in the morgue.
He is the greater vehicle, I am the lesser.
We drive on in the darkness looking for a
smiling man with huge ear lobes. He’ll
have the answer, I say. No, says my father,
breathing softly. No he won’t.