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Poems by Thomas Grosch (Nuncs)
Ode to Modern Times


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ODE TO MODERN TIMES

A pungent heresy now takes the field
In flagrant contravention of the mode,
Obscene and perilous procedure bold,
For freedom is but freedom to perform
The will of numbers: anti-mass is death
And Man incarcerate adores his bonds,
Drinks deep of all the pleasures of the world
Until the heady fount no longer flows
And tragedy dims the light; he can but rage
And curse his gods that they should dare to starve
His ravenous greed for condiment.
So goes the world. And now
Let diction emulate the current style;
In un-Miltonic enigmatic terms begin
Some diagnosis of the modern scene:-

Soliloquy interminate will sometimes crystallize
In tentative prognostication and surmise
Not fruitless wholly
But seeing to aid the pilgrimage of mind
With parsimonious gobbets metaphysical,
Handmaid of contemplation, sweet tranquillity,
Now neutralized by Civilization’s clamour
And the din of progress;
Delineation is smudged, expediency paramount.
Pronouncement propagates twin demons of dissent
And epidemic nonchalance.
Emergent dogmatic scepticism now
Invites to atrophy, elevates
Industrial torpor up to transcendental heights.
Sectarian odium and distain
The pride of class, the scorn of humbler men
Some outcast reprehensible may seek
With nauseous touch to staunch the flow of blood
Or suage the torture and the parching thirst
In deserts, once the bowers of self-esteem.
How bigamous intellect and fame vertiginous
Assume the glamour of the Olympian gods!
Motority transmogrifies benignity, unlocks
And promotes the supersession of the primitive;
Its power tyrannical inebriates.
Grace, charm and virtue much esteemed
But megalomastia and callipygian take the prize.
Clinical niceties no longer circumscribe
The lawlessness of impropriety:
Gawping ineptitude, suppurating sore of the seventies,
Gulps the persistent vomit of the box
With unconscious complacency and impotence:
Adversity? Dial CEL. 70 and ask for God;
(With long disuse the line may well be dead.)
Bigotry enshrined inters significance
With overweening extrovert fury,
All competent units and foreseeing minds,
Imprimis the unconventional,
Submerged or Coventry-wards dispatched,
While all the gods precipitate the stampede
Of “Automated units of personnel”
Onwards to the looming formic pyre.
Supersonics, ultra vires, roar
Their vaunting insolence insufferable.
Some curse the body politic then propagate
That progeny may breath its fetid air.
Whither the currency ravenous lunarcy
With its precious dust
And forty-million-dollar monkey?
The concatenation of miracles tangent and momentous
Stultifies discrimination - embarras de richesse.
Sciolism is rampant, pollution manifest,
As mechanistic sewage taints the stream
And neighbour gorges neighbour’s effluent filth.
While feather folk by land and sea must die
To guarantee that wheels of profit spin.

Well may some psychotic computer’s elusive trauma
Blast eternity from out the solar fire:
Potential entropic anarchy, foreseen, sounds an alarm
Which nurtures the gay bacillus hedonisticus
Abetted by a kindly Welfare State.
So goes the fate of empires in decay.
Lead forth the rout of revelry’s delight:
For tomorrow we die.

May 1970



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