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Two Poems By: Rowland Bagnall
Karl Smith , May 3rd, 2015 07:39

Two poems from Cambridge-based Rowland Bagnall make up the month's first instalment of weekly new writing on The Quietus

There is reality but I’ve never seen / even its shadow on that or any wall

I confused the action on the screen for its reconstruction,
perceived by being unperceived, like an empty space where you always
never see anything but empty space.

‘I didn’t know that I didn’t know that,’ she said,
the absence felt as absence, touching me touching her as I imagined watching
the sky separating itself from snow.

Experiencing nostalgia for a place and time I’d never been in,
like a figure missing from a frieze, I thought how
I always think how we always miss the real,

confusing the reconstruction on the screen for its reconstruction,
an event that couldn’t and didn’t happen, amalgamating the amalgamations,
perceived by being unperceived.

‘I didn’t know that I didn’t know that,’ she said,
the sky separating itself from snow.

When I told my story all over again it no longer sounded plausible, even to me

Like parallel lines appearing to meet on the horizon,
or parallel horizons appearing to meet in the sky,
the image of the event became its own event,
expanded in revision, self-identical and drained.
We decided that the end of Taxi Driver (1976)
was way too good to be true, unimaginable as
the noise of the sun or backwards-breaking glass,
as I remembered watching Amy in her studio under
hundreds of electric bulbs, arranged in their order
of brightness, like waking up into another dream
where I had disappeared, unable to imagine
me within the scene, half-empty, opened out,
snow under the room, blood under the snow,
though I couldn’t see you seeing me see this.

Like the way suicide can be grimly appropriate,
almost beautiful like an almost-sourceless light,
or the dimming synapse of a lightbulb burning-out,
could the poem change its meaning over time?
Can we behold the image without thinking it,
not absolutely dead but slowly overwhelmed
by sense like gently suffocating fumes from fuel,
just as dreams represent the desire to stay awake?
Rain hatched the windowpanes. I unimagined the line
of a crop circle, forming and then reforming itself,
expanded in revision, self-identical and drained.
De Niro touched a bloody finger to his head as I
remembered Amy watching me read Vertigo (1990)
and/or realizing that nothing is never entirely untrue.

Rowland Bagnall is a 23 year old student from Oxford. Currently based in Cambridge he is working towards an MPhil in American Literature, focusing on twentieth and twenty-first century poetry. His work has appeared previously or is forthcoming in Cake, The Moth, Oxford Poetry, Coloureval, Poetry London, the Belleville Park Pages and the PN Review, among others. He is the co-founder of Playhouse64, an online arts journal: