Tagging the Palace Walls

    The Three Crosses Rembrandt, 1653 (wikipedia - public domain)

    I was in Desmond’s Hip City.

    Delroy Wilson’s musty Dancing Mood

    posters strewn underfoot. Party for the End of the World

    slapped on the hoarding, made from cut and paste hysteria.

    Hunger strikes and tribal clashes, clashes luridly with magical

    runes graffiti. Ruins a dancing mood for a spellbound stargazer like me.


    Harald Bluetooth, the runes read,

    I turned the Danes into Christians by the stern Christ.

    You will see the Master engraved on the great pillars by twilight.

    You will see, by the fiord on the west side of Atlantic Road,

    the king buried, and his gorgeous ship transferred to the next

    world with his Anglo-Saxon loyalties done in gold.


    Tonight, we raid the caves for runic talent. Find a forger with gilding hands.

    Mind how he turns around – crime to art – prison to Charlemagne’s palace.

    Trades in sin for a spray can. Does time bent like a jailbird over cuttlefish

    bones, tapping away at bits of encrypted preciousness, listening, listening

    for a new beginning, for the heightening of pitch. Just man and Logos.


    The story of man is the story of conservation – translating scratches

    to wireless data, cracking the dancing mood of the cosmos,

    diamond point in his right hand, left in the dark,

    struck dumb by a salmon knot on a Celtic rock,

    melting bits of dark glass into words shaped to the comely beauty

    of a Lindisfarne manuscript: In principio erat Verbum.


    And word spread. All kinds – shoot from the hip, down city tunnels,

    slither along subway cars- each and every metallic turn of a track-

    each lunge and thrust. Words hop like frogs out of every lunatic mouth,

    twist in neon, rattle off every mighty flagpole, every pillared lectern,

    where the exhortations of Simeon the Stylite once fell like a hailstorm.


    I see man, a mystic hooligan, with his iron stylus, scratch

    on temples, bridges, t-shirts, ramparts, blue jeans, castles,

    tag a notice of eviction to the Stylite’s foot. Beg for records,

    scale for traces, faces, artifacts, basket weaves so delicately interlaced.

    And now he dances face to face, overlooking the ruins

    from the other side of Desmond’s Hip City.