I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Supermarket Shrine


Up and down the aisles
we search for God
among the apples and the pomegranates.

 Approaching the checkout,
altar of our desires,
we present our offerings:

one cut-price candle,
two loaves of bread
long past their sell-by date,
a case of New World wine.

(Thanks to Trevor Woodford at Aura Of Past Shadows for the photo, which shows a new branch of Tesco housed in the old Methodist church, Westbourne, Bournemouth.)

9 comments:

Dominic Rivron said...

It's a shame it's such a long way to go to stick the poem in the shop, somewhere among the apples and pomegranates, for example.

I wonder if there's an organ in the Bournemouth area (like the Echo)that might publish it?

Rachel Fox said...

Is that a real shop? Eek.
I also have a poem with the line "Why wait for heaven when Tesco might stock it?"
x

Bonnie said...

Genius Robert. Those of us schooled in scripture can appreciate your many references to 'holy' products sitting forgotten and redundant on the shelf.

ksam said...

Wow. This one really stops you in your tracks! And then the pic leaves me wanting to cry, although... it is a building, just a temporal "thing". However, can you imagine the faces of those who built it for it's original intention...seeing this incarnation!

Short Poems said...

Nice write,I love your way with words!

Friko said...

A House of God turned into a Temple of Consumption.
Tesco, the new Sunday outing.

George said...

A wonderful poem, Robert, calling attention to what is shown in that incredible photograph. This says is all doesn't it? The world is no longer ashamed to admit that what it worships most is consumption.

Ruth said...

Robert, I immediately thought of Allen Ginsberg's poem when I read your first stanza! I wonder if you know it, and it it was at all in your mind. Hope you don't mind if I post the whole thing.

A Supermarket in California
Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery
boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the
pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store
detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen
delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in
an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be
lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,
what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and
you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat
disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Berkeley, 1955

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for all these sparkling comments!

Dominic - I doubt if they'll publish it anywhere in the Bournemouth area!

Rachel - yes, absolutely real.

Bonnie - I could have had some fish, and also freshly packaged goat, I suppose.

Karin - good point about a building only being a temporal thing. Often I've been in churches 'looking for God' and not found a trace.

Short Poems - thanks. And welcome!

Friko - yes, Tesco, the cathedral of carrots, cauliflowers, cannelloni and cottage cheese.

George - it's a telling picture, isn't it?

Ruth - thanks so much for posting Ginsberg's fantastic poem. I think it's brilliant. It seems slightly familiar; I think I read it long ago.