The Spoonbill Generator

Big Custard

Warm in nutritious mulch, we germinate, [E Greejius]

And of ourselves we feed; some lesser fry [Roland]

Lie dormant still, by spring's alarm untouched, [P]

From summerís bounty barred. Why, when the years [E Greejius]

Give notice of denial, may we not [Roland]

Like locksmiths turn our newest tumblers loose [P]

Upon the lawn, and, from a brimming jug [Roland]

Drown somnolence in alcoholic cheer [P]

And deep contentment? No; for when we strive [Roland]

To summon up the moon's most hoary face [P]

In stiff remembrance, clouded with remorse [Roland]

The merest hint of which would spell the end [The Agent Apsley]

Of time's imposture, all our withered shadows [P]

Die a-borning, pent beyond the veil. [Roland]

How best conjure, by faith, such fruitful yield [E Greejius]

When all around the land lies burnt and sere [TG]

with stagnant salt-pans, dearth's memorial. [E Greejius]

We strive, but striving know that we shall fail [TG]

In such endeavours as, when disavowed, [Roland]

Will tempt the feet of those who walk the waves [P]

In saviour's guise. Yet awe, in sighs of sleep [Roland]

Will cause our eyes to widen, noses flare [TG]

Like stallions in the dawn. Hope glimmers still [KT]

Though in another's eyes; and in defeat [Roland]

Our troubled curses make the sun turn pale [P]

Though not so pale, perhaps, as heretofore [Roland]

For, strengthened now by victims' blood, it turns [P]

In orbit caustic, shadowing a tryst [Roland]

A spiteful meeting at the coven's wrath [P]

Which heralds tragedy for this sad realm [TG]

Yet even so, the lily spares no scent [Roland]

Nor stints her sensual promise of cool joys. [E Greejius]

Not she, immune to treason nor to time [Roland]

And yet, still slave to him who comes to all [TG]

Forcing rash demands upon the soil [Grayman]

He warms, with finger gold and burnished thumb. [Roland]

When, through the decaying years, our barren [E Greejius]

Limbs upbraid the heavens' dial, and when [Roland]

Our weary hearts beat slower but beat sounder, [E Greejius]

Our shining, worn escapements lose their edge [Roland]

Keeping no glowing archive for our solace. [E Greejius]

This it remains, and the remainder thus [(trad)]

Itself engenders its own residues [E Greejius]

In sallow time's bewildered almanack [Roland]

Harbouring long-lapsed trysts to no good end; [E Greejius]

And when the key is turned, when all is known [Roland]

Of fecund or of sterile, quick or dead, [E Greejius]

When swings the final door, the fatal hinge [Roland]

Whhose groans betray the ravages of rust [TG]

Too long untended, and too far behind [Roland]

The reckonings of Tophet ... Ay! What then? [E Greejius]

Roof shall abase to floor, and floor to ground [Roland]

Before the pristine actuary-magus; [E Greejius]

His propehcy but piles of ruins [The Agnet Apsley]

Despite the ivy, ineffectual buttress; [E Greejius]

Tower shall slope to turf, pile fall to pond [Roland]

Leaf cling to leaf, concealing all the paths [TG]

Earth harbours; milk shall curdle in the byre [Roland]

Wine in the butt degrade to vinegar. [E Greejius]

In desolate lament , each lovelorn bleat [Roland]

Falls fallow on the thin unheeded air. [E Greejius]

And I, whom all betrayers have abjured [Roland]

In strict adherence to their solemn curse, [The Agent Apsley]

And thee, forever wandering, possessed [Roland]

By burden's knowledge of the ghost of time [P]

Dissembled quite; how shall we, sister, fare [Roland]

Together at the edge of temperance [P]

And on the very brink of sanity? [Roland]

I tremble quite, envisaging our doom [TG]

Swept, nameless, down the brackish torrent - yet, [E Greejius]

Some stain, by us impasted on the silence [Roland]

As 'twere th'embodiment of rime, [The Agent Apsley]

Shall print us immemorial as stones [Roland]

And when, at last, Time's palsied sands have run [TG]

Their paltry course, and 'neath the final dust [Roland]

The tigers of indifference repose, [E Greejius]

The muscled threat is but disguised [Grayman]

Anew, and rises yet again, an atom's breadth [Roland]

Away from penitence, the like of which [The Agent Apsley]

Was never dreamt by cranium of yore [Roland]

Even in ghostly ecstasy. Indeed, [E Greejius]

But for the haste of man, the tears would flow [The Agent Apsley]

In all-consuming torrent, washing out [Roland]

Life's thinnest crust onto the shore [P]


Contributors: E Greejius, Roland, P, The Agent Apsley, TG, KT, Grayman, (trad), The Agnet Apsley
Poem finished: 30th January 2000