Jos Bitumen Archive Window – Issue 17

From the portmanteau of a friend, the following poetical extracts were unearthed by an art historian in Stoke Newington. 

As I, whoever, grow up, however, still I stare down and navel gaze

While others play, gambol and generally fritter away their schooldays

Without philosophy, poetry and art, instead enacting their own purple haze

Running around, calling each other man, yet being like mice in a maze;

Treating themselves and their development as an abstract historical phase;

For me, in a quiet, somewhat foreign corner of myself, life heavily weighs

Like the missive crisis, permissiveness, all affecting in so many ways

And, of course, love, like a butterfly, on heart and mind lays

That I often think, rather than living, it’s an existential malaise

And the universe and its rich fabric inevitably frays

And me, a mere organism, is ejected from feeding to a life that decays

Yet, an answer to embrace death, works for the one who prays

I fall upon myself, and, seeking nothing, not even praise

From those figures of black and white, not considering the greys,

Yes, marvel and enjoy an impression of the world like Monet’s

But feel the thinking beauty in Sartre’s absurd daze

And the gloriously funny being and nothing in Beckett’s plays

 

It ends there but commentators suspect Jos was interrupted and never picked up this theme of isolation from his peers and the world in general. The persistence of rhyme creates a rhythm for life as Jos was seeing it: repetitive, laboured, but with a sense of traditional beauty.

 

Moving youngly looking out for crass ambush

Keeping low beyond their short-sighted cross-hairs

That compliment the hair on their knuckles

I see now their weapons are merely cudgels

And cannot, will not reach my thoughts

 

Another fragment talking of Jos’s acute separateness and determination to resist social isolation, shown in his choice blank verse that is purely emotional and cerebral without the convention of form. Jos was locked in a cupboard as a jape but his adaptability was such that he was there for four days and nights before being ‘rescued’ by a master who happened to sleepwalk into the same cupboard. The episode spawned the next couple of fragments:

 

Without light they are no longer ignorant

And, in here, I can feel only myself

And:

Stay, my love, embrace,

What, you cannot, see

 

Illustrates clearly how Jos was gaining confidence of coming into his own.

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