Take Away the Bells
Take Away The Bells, an ekphrasis poem, was commissioned by the artist William Robinson as collaborative contribution to his work Sun Ship Machine Gun (Metallurgy I). It was cast as a bronze plaque and displayed as part of his work as the Atlantic nominee for the Sobey Art Award at the National Gallery of Canada from October 2016 to February 2017.
The mixed media installation and performance piece Sun Ship Machine Gun (Metallurgy I) imagines and explores the sonic and material evolution and historical narratives inherent in the metal of saxophones purported to have been descended from WWII’s discarded artillery shells that once took the form of aged European church bells.
TAKE AWAY THE BELLS, DEAR ELLEN,
CAST WITHIN THE EAR-
THE GUNMETAL MUTINY,
ALL BITTERSWEET CACOPHONY
OF BATTLEFIELDS AND BUTCHERY
-LEST GOD TURN INTO SHELL.
RELEASE FOR NEW RELIGIONS
THE SAXOPHONE ITS LITANY
IN SACROSANCT RECOVERY
OF MAGISTRATE AND NEOPHYTE,
VANGUARD OF CAMPANOLOGY-
THE LOVE SUPREME AND MUSICAL.
ALIGHT MUTE STREETS OF EUROPE
WANT FOR MAIDEN BELL AND PRODIGY
-A CURVATURE, A HOLLOWNESS-
FREAK LANGUAGE AND ACUITY;
THE TEMPLE WHICH IS NOT TEMPLE,
VACANT OF DEATH KNELL AND COMMUNITY.
FOR WHO BUT I, UNDONE BY ALCHEMY,
TRANSFIGURATION AND THIEVERY
KNOW OF MY DOUBLE, MY WAX, MY VIOLENCE?
SURELY THE GHETTOIZED, THE INFIDELS,
ALL CHILDREN, FALLEN AND FEMINIZED
PORTEND OF ALTERNATION?
AND SO TO SWEET THE BLINDNESS
PLACE GRAPES INTO MY EYES
AND FIND THE SONG WHO LOVES YOU,
WHO TOLLS THEN TO FORGIVE YOU
OF THE SPIRIT-SHIFTING INSTRUMENT
AND AWAKE IN EXPLORATION
IN THE OCTAVE OF YOUR HISTORY.