Thomas Albert Fox's "English Wounds: an autobiography southwards".

1 Blood
2 Lorca's Apple
3 Weird
4 The Ruin
5 The Seafarer
6 A Civil War
7 Lest We Forget to Forgive
8 Divisions
9 Charles III
10 Gerry Adams Conspirator
11 Don't you think, of Albert, I mean ...
12 Dear Mishap prehension (deerhunter in snow)
13 That damned, (cartographer)
14 The Bombers Are Flying
15 Fall Out
16 Fear
17 Don't Mention the War
18 We Have Ways of Making You Talk.
19 Who's Whose
20 Beggar in Dubai
21 A Blow for the Conflict Resolution Shityeeaishun
22 Mary Bell, child killer
23 Pop Festival
24 Incident
25 Blackbirds Sing Over Kossovo
26 Paisley Ian Robert Kyle 1926- (the Voice)
27 Mountbatten Louise Francis Victor Albert Nicholas, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 1900-79 (Star)
28 Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer 1874-1965 (Winnie)
29 Tiger Song
30 Claw Song
31 The Sirens Song
32 Infection
33 Cricket
34 Achilles Song: Lament for the Fallen
35 Thatcher Margaret Hilda 1925-    (Baroness)
36 The Fairy Queen
37  Land of Hope and Glory
38  Land of Hope and Glory, The Anthem
39  The Front
40  Wound
41  A Head
42  Onion Eying


Fox's central thesis about history is that it "is full of shit".  This scatoscopic approach is based on the inevitable practical reality that the waste of humanity is produced by its own consumption and that consumption in all its forms cannot but accumulate the shite that dominates and inevitably engulfs its environment until 'history' is indeed shit. 'History' is thus literally and figuratively "full of shit", perhaps culminating in the stepped transformation of the (human) biosphere and the virtual survival of an humanity translated from human being to inhuman being, a state to which human being seems to have always 'naturally' aspired.  "English Wounds" is a draft volume of about sixty poems toward a post~postmodern ('cybennial') history of England and its Wessex heart. Further poems are required to complete such an history and are characterized by an apparent chronic historicity, but each poem carries an image that is in itself time-less and therefore beyond the invention of 'history' as mere friction in mind, a friction that creates heat without light, blood without heart, flame without fire, smoke without eyes to irrigate the face of the person who waits herein, sockets dry and void, open-mouthed, staring, looking without vision, seeing only the last sighting of its own invention.

Unremittingly bloody (but as yet unbowed) "English Wounds" is incomplete as a volume, although all the poems are complete in themselves. Each wound is an open speech in the side of England. Perhaps, the volume as a whole will prove fatal to the lost tribe of Britain, the English; leaving only their words strung deadmouthed among their media, seeping meaning until their airs and graces lie at the bottom of a fully drained pool, empty and still, dry inside out, awaiting rain. What an end. Of course, Heaneyites will turn in their graves, without digging out, unearthing the conclusion that dieing of your wounds is a death not only of wounds received but of wounds given.

In the case of the three "Old English" poems, they step beyond translation and fall into the act of recording in literary form an imagining of their oral performances as creative 'acts' in themselves. Fox made the translations of the Seafarer and the Ruin from the early English transcriptions which in turn had been made from an oral to a literary form by previous acts too of poetic creation (as Heaney says about Beowulf ). The 'translation' of the 'Weird' poem was made out of thin air, the air that still hangs faint about the memory as if it really had been sung to that unborn child of a stillborn life whose unexistence cannot never be forgotten in the fear and 'fraidness' of all those bloody mouths close to my ear on the brink of speech.

The volume as a whole (if written out completely) is about we, the de-existent English, a people called to account and amortised by the many cuts the edges of empire have drawn upon us, the us who seem to belong out there, dis-located, rather than here at the heart of our bloody pain. Pain that seems other, seems only to operate on our uncremated and unburied remains, exposed, ecstatic beyond us; remains that observe a game from the height of a spectacular dirigible tethered to the ground of that place England, yet unable to zoom and focus beneath us and play the game in that ground ourselves, that earth of us, the lair of our being. At the horizon we observe only that our vision is lost and take that for both deadness and the extent of the world.

Fox  is committed  to write the remaining poems to complete the wounds by 2012. He has cunningly found, of course, that some of his poems fit into more than one of his various volumes. Poetry is a nuisance in this way, it doesn't fit neatly into this or that package, but bulges at the seams. So it may not be simply a ruse to economise on his undoubted effort, an effortless way simply to gain both weight and number to the said volumes.

The poem "Lest We Forget to Forgive" is selected as the exemplar wound. It subsists close to the heart of the deliberately cruel and telling ambiguity residing in its title lines through the brutal, twisting, contortions of its puns and images, its broken rhymes and rhythms that make up the stunned silences, their aftermath. Herein is the difficult pain at the core of England forever subject to the wounded heeled beneath our marching feet. Certainly, healing is illusory depending, as it does, on our activity of living beyond those who died before us, we say for us, giving their deaths a useful purpose to us. But the poem itself says that their silence is not acquiescence, is not acceptance of their deaths so arbitrarily imposed by perpetrators in their own interests. No, their silence is of deadness. The killer bands roaming should not assume that manipulation of the dead into sacrificial positions where they are posed in empty silence is forgiveness. Do the dead forgive their killers?  Who knows; except that such forgiveness is a large assumption on the part of the living. Yet, we do know that the living forgive themselves in the name of the dead.

For those removed from killing, the concomitant dead are, of course, conscripted to the good who win, as winning is good, and their place in the script of living is to have exited left or right creating space for the continuing story to manufacture its progress through the mill of events turning freely without the encumbrance of their voices, except as accompaniment for the living according to scripts imagined by the living. Thus, if we forget, and, being human, we do forget, then there is nothing to forgive. "Don't worry", as far as we are concerned there is nothing but a story of forgiveness to forgive.

The poem's central image of the slaughterhouse is torn throughout by brutal, wrenching puns. The crudity of the concluding pun (meet), and the directness of the reference (strangely meet) line is very deliberately asking you to re-understand Wilfred Owen's poem "Strange Meeting" about the killing in the trenches of the First World War. It is easy to overlook that Owen was not simply a very fine poet, but also a killer, someone who in deed had killed his fellows, the Hun, in the most brutal hand to hand way imaginable.

If you are not an English literature graduate &/or don't know Owen's poem, then do use the link for the full text and reference, plus some pointers and thoughts from us on the central image, if you want.

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