Poetry Reading: Julie-ann Rowell

 

Julie-ann Rowell Reads Two Poems

 

‘Photograph by Shomei Tomatsu’

 

PHOTOGRAPH BY SHOMEI TOMATSU,

MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK 

 

 

Black and white, it resembled

a carcass on a hook,

 

the kind of image Francis Bacon

would have coveted, owned up to:

 

human or animal, origins uncertain,

could be either in its twist of gut.

 

I was surprised then when I checked

that this melting meat wasn’t flesh,

 

but glass – a beer bottle no less,

moulded into this shape

 

by the atomic blast of 1945.

Rescued from a site no one now

 

could recognise. Buildings rise

again and children are born.

 

The earth shuddered, continued.

A beer bottle lost any sense of what it was.

 

‘The Demolition of Mary Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church’

 

THE DEMOLITION OF MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 

 

The bricks may be re-used, they’re hot

on recycling now, and the tiles from the floor,

the pews to be sold off, people like them

to fit out their homes with something different,

where the devout sat and tried to listen:

 

reclamation of a sort. Christianity

is preserved for the mid-states, perhaps. Although

this congregation are weak with weeping.

They knelt in the snow one January evening,

prayed to save their sacred space.

 

It had no effect. The building’s coming down,

in a storm of dust, heavy boots, and men

shouting because they can’t be heard over

the bulldozer, the drills, the hammers. You have

to shout in New York. Let your lungs out.

 

Prayers are too quiet. A stampede

might be necessary, some righteous anger.

There’s plenty of anger about, usually not

of that kind. It swims up and down the avenues.

It arrived at the church and washed past the door,

 

no one to gather it in, make it count. A friend

uses the tower as a landmark to find home.

Women do this, apparently, use steeples and spires

rather than street names or numbers.

Perhaps we should come to rely on something else.

 

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