This poem was written after reading an article in New Scientist recently. The article shone a light on current thinking about human brain transplantation.
As the magazine’s leader suggested, whatever we might think about some of the ideas discussed, it is important that they are talked about. Scrutiny matters.
The title of the poem refers to a
World War I airman’s song:
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me:
For me the angels sing-a-ling-a-ling / They’ve got the goods for me.
Oh! Death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling? / Oh! Grave, thy victory?
The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling / For you but not for me.
The man who would transplant
a human head, or properly,
exchange a human frame,
Frankenstein or Doctor Strange?
He talks his plan, so far so good,
and sure, well, perhaps, maybe?
Until chillier air keens a chime,
whispering the unsafe word,
An itinerary reminder bings aloud,
it’s Monday, almost midday,
whether my head is there or absentee,
in two minutes the Bute in test
will scream alarm like a scorched banshee.
And in my arms a little twitch,
fingers flicker startle ready,
fumbling set to save my ears – fair warning
for you and for me.
Something a little different – a gallery with an assortment of some of the images and montages that I’ve made to illustrate this blog over the past wee whiley …
The island of Macgyver
Chuck Wagon crossing The Great Scots Pine
Beech pennies tanned rust and ochre,
circles of sky cast in cold pressed leaf,
they do not always look the same,
though Brighty is damp almost all year
the pools are not always present.
I can look above and below,
but not at the same instant.
I must choose one plane,
breathe low and look kindly, and
fix each in focus, turn about.
This short circuit, a balanced cut-log bridge,
needle scent, fern and copper scale contours,
barely fifteen minutes to walk around, but
gently, surely, it all returns to ground.
I did not tell you about the light switch
That I had replaced.
It was a faultless trap,
To catch you unawares after a day or so.
When you would reach and use it
Without a second thought.
At an unfussed click, gloom would depart,
Light would simply occur.
Your touch would smile with plain ease,
And you would know.
It’s been quite a long time since I first read a poem to a ‘live’ audience. A few years in fact. Last week I got around to standing up in front of a small group of people in a (fairly) public space again. The occasion was an ‘echo’ event at DCA where people were responding to an exhibition of the unusual slow animations of the artists IC-98. My poem tries to do it’s own explaining, so, I think I’ll just let it…
In response to an exhibition of work by IC-98. Dundee, January 2016. Continue reading