As a part of the series by Poet Les Bush we bring before you the next of his beautiful collection – Chaos Chance and Choices. The Final Encounter was a “dramatic fusion” of the previous two, an exercise in poetic and dramatic form to fuse two poems into a single, sustained narrative.
Both poems lay untouched, until 2012. I thought to myself: “Can I run these together, as a single narrative?”. This is the result. There was a change of title, the addition of extra lines in both poems, and an experiment in visual restructuring.-
PART ONE: Oh, The Desolation, the Devastation
The final encounter with fate. In silence the final assault is awaited.
When the battle is lost, the troops lay dead on the field:
Surrender, there is no point in continuing.
The poorly equipped battalions of Intellect, Emotion and Strength
had been flung against the mechanised regiments of Fate;
they were not enough; the battle had been hard, harsh, uncompromising.
Fate had launched its attacks precisely, without pity,
resisting counter attack after counterattack flung at its advancing columns:
it had been slowed down, that’s all. It ground forward relentlessly, dispassionately,
deliberately: the defences were too disorganised to stop it.
There are no reinforcements, the only option is retreat:
a desperate retreat; as each hard earned conquest was relinquished.
There is no retreat now, there is nowhere to go now.
The defences are exhausted, disheartened.
There is nowhere to go now: Defeat! The final encounter with fate.
In silence the final assault is awaited.
Now, there was only silence, a deafening silence.
The Thinker, the Fighter, the Poet stand huddled.
There is no conversation, the frightened eyes say it all.
The surviving troops lay on the ground immobile: what had happened?
The war had been brutal, frightening, but it had its own sound:
a sound that filled the empty pauses, that gave meaning to the struggle.
Now, there was only silence, a terrifying silence.
Where had all the meaning gone? What had it all been about?
Why had they fought so hard, so fruitlessly? This was worse than the death of dreams,
worse than the scream of unborn pleasures suffocated in their inception;
worse than the demise of schemes born in the heart.
Oh, that silence! That cruel, punitive silence!
The Thinker, The Fighter and The Poet; a divided Command
We must reason with it, said the Thinker.
No! We must fight it, said the Fighter.
No! We must confront it, characterise it, said the Poet,
then our words might capture and define it
There is no agreement. The argument is not new.
They stand, facing each other, angry, a divided command.
The Thinker speaks
I could have done it, but you all let me down.
If only you had given me the time and the opportunity,
I could have lead us to victory.
To the Fighter: you would not listen,
you attacked without planning,
without seeking knowledge of the foe.
I had access to the collective experience of humanity,
I could have provided that, you didn’t listen.
To the Poet: you were no better,
while I sought knowledge, facts and figures,
you sat writing of flowers and trees, gods and battles:
they were of no importance!
Both of you let me down,
while I sought peace and detachment
you, the Fighter complained of feeling hungry;
you, the Poet, complained of feeling hurt and lonely.
The Poet speaks
You fool! The Poet replies; all the knowledge,
all the facts and figures you could construct
would not have saved us. You knew nothing.
All that you believed to have knowledge of was that which I had given you.
I perceived it; you itemised it, robbing it of substance:
the warnings I gave you, which you chose to ignore.
The Fighter does not
The fighter stands silent, his fists clenched. Silence, uncommunicative silence.
You are all wrong! The emergence of the Will
A shabby, uniformed figure stands, wearily approaches them
“Who are you?” They demand.
It is the Will’s Time to articulate
I am the Will, the motivation of you all;
until now I have followed each of you in turn.
It is only now I see how wrong I was.
I was created to lead, coordinate: I am taking over.
I am that quiet voice that lurks on the fringes of your consciousness:
whispering words of warning, admonishing you to take that next faltering step;
That strain of steel resolve hovering just above Reason
and a mite short of Faith.
I dwell in that haunting piece of music that resonates in your ears,
even when you are surrounded in silence,
or overwhelmed by the sheer noise and roar of the world.
I can be found in your favourite book,
that obscure piece of art.
I am found most often in the humblest of surroundings,
in those places where only you can find peace or tranquility,
suspended in the void between fractured words
in broken sentences, dangling phrases.
On the subject of Silence
The silence has a new quality; no less deep, no less threatening:
but a distinct, qualitative difference.
The silence is no longer threatening.
It cannot harm them.
It cannot touch us, said the Will.
Together we are strong enough to face it.
There is mumbled agreement. What do we do now?
We re-organise, we start again. we salvage our strength, our pride.
Silence has no name. It has no content.
Re-asserting the determination to Live
Slowly, they shuffle into line, one by one they call their names: an affirmation.
Smiles begin to cautiously appear; they have not been defeated.
Now was the time to start gain, consolidate, construct.
There is a pervasive energy now, a purpose to continue.
In the distance there is a bird call, so piercingly sweet and clear
it is almost painful to listen to it. The bird soared high into the sky,
it seemed to fly so high.
There is our symbol, our answer, the Will said: it has freedom,
we have even a greater degree of freedom than it does.
Now is the time to grab and exercise it.
The sounds of the world; the bird song,
the sounds of animals, of wind in the trees
are beautiful: an anthem.
One battle had been lost, the war had not been.
It is not a time of jubilation, but of quiet thanks and determination.
There is still much to do. The process is still in motion.
Bowed, not broken the troops continue their re-construction
and resolute dedication to live life to the fullest;
to re-build and improve; to learn and improve.