Goose, by Alasdair Paterson

11 September 2014

Alasdair Paterson’s pamphlet Brumaire and Later, published in 2010, features a series of poems under the titles of names of days proposed for the French revolutionary calendar: agricultural and bucolic names like Beetroot, Endive, Harrow. ‘Brumaire’ itself was the second month of that calendar, named after the word for fog, ‘brume’.


In honour of the day that was in it,
we ordered a neck to be wrung
and fresh quills cut to consecrate
the age of the supreme pen.

Soon those quills were up and riding
the thermals of the times, or they’d dip
down into new opacities, give names
to all that had to be renamed

and craft the hard dispatches too;
so many old friends and similar
to be detained for more than questioning
somewhere near the border.

Lunch: we signed off with greasy fingers
a sketch of the new morality, unmistakably
a classic, all we’d dreamt and more:
something severe and diaphanous.

Then we winged it through the afternoon:
loose, free-flowing, no more prisoners,
and though we saw our signatures worn down
to small hard ciphers of the will,

they made their point. Our best day filled
brimful with our marks: so many.
And quite enough to count against us
on another kind of day, citizens.

[Read in Brumaire and Later, published by Flarestack Poets.]

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