May 5th, 2010



One eye blank white, her ear nibbled by time,
she stares at us elliptically. And I'm
half-worried, if the stucco fell away
revealed the stone beneath, people would say

that was the true face, that the royal court
had her nose straightened, that the sculptor fought
in vain for truth. His final judge the queen,
no longer quite as young as she had been,

ordered her ideal self. Sometimes we choose
that youth, that loveliness we're bound to lose
to freeze in time. Her cat-like knowing stare
laugh-lines carved deep, arched eye-brows and her hair

shaved off - truth shows most gorgeous in a mix
with artifice. All beauties know these tricks.

Later I ought to add that this is in part a response to Nina Arsenault's posting of the bust as a Facebook profile and her creative work around her own cosmetic surgeries. One of her photos here specifically references the bust.

Someone on the Comment is Free website

accused me of intellectual arrogance. So I committed a response, thus...

If there's something ineffable and vast
fate-writing, sin-contemning, it is past
a human brain's capacity to know,
to hold in sight. And some of us will go

humbled to others' books, as if they knew,
as if they could know, more than me or you.
The Bible, the Koran, the Tao te Ching
all Hubbard's followers, or Wiccans, sing

second-hand poetry. I'll buy bespoke
I speak in jest Not wholly. All you folk
who think me proud, consider motes and beams.
You'd put your god in a small box. It seems

that's pride, as if your evening cup of tea
could model, could contain, the raging sea.

I really am an agnostic and not an atheist, which is something people don't entirely get about me.

Oh and here's what I think about the election

The Tories are being horribly smug - the ghastly Gove was almost threatening to John Humphries this morning, and mansplained this and that. Including his desire to remake constituencies to be
'fairer', which I suspect means a colossal gerrymander to ensure Tory victories forever.

I am afraid, I am very afraid. My fear is that they get a very small working majority and exploit a divided opposition to push through whatever they want.

This is the downside of what I also want. I want New Labour punished enough that they think hard about everything that the Party I Used to Love has done over the last 16 years - because they were doing it before they were in office. The pandering to the Daily Mail and Murdoch, often, once in power, at the expense of human death and pain. The control freakery and the authoritarianism that derived from it. The sucking up to the rich. I want Labour purified and more humane.

What went wrong with New Labour could go wrong with any progressive party that forgets to place radical substance ahead of smooth presentational style. I remember, from the Thorpe era, how easy it was for the Liberal party to lose track of its soul, and a lot of bright young activists. I love my Lib Dem friends but don't think you are immune from the temptations that near-damned Labour.

I hope for an arrangement between the Labour and LibDem parties that will keep the Tories out of office and make possible real electoral reform. And bring Labour back to its senses and its better angels.

I fear that Labour arrogance and LibDem triumphalism, and Tory postal votes, will produce a result entirely opposite to what I want.

I still don't know how I will vote. My views tally most with the Greens; my hopes are with the LibDems because I want some sort of change; my heart is with the Labour Party for reasons that are partly tribal and partly an intellectual commitment to socialism.

My voting hand has a mind of its own - albeit a progressive one.

I live in a safe Labour seat.