The Audit Room
A fine statue by John Flaxman
at the far end of the Audit Room
depicts Hercules and Hebe,
above a pair of brown leather armchairs
so arranged as to offer customers
sampling the cafeteria’s carrot and coriander soup
a clear view up to Hebe’s bottom.
Were Hercules to stand
he would tower over Hebe,
but positioned in a sitting pose,
one arm draped over her shoulders, he seems relaxed,
advertising virtues of Classical art
if you haven’t seen them in a while.
Both are nude but Hebe,
somehow, seems more so,
Flaxman representing the suppleness
of this young woman’s skin
stretched hip to underarm
using only bitumen plaster.
Strange bulges in Hercules’ massive club
are latterly explained by the sight of small figures
wriggling out at ground level
to which neither pays attention
since the dynamism of the piece
comes from the slightest touch of knees
sensed through the thin material of Hebe’s shift
she drops almost to the floor.
Beyond the Pale
‘The shape of the deer park boundary has had a lasting effect on the landscape as it has dictated the course of some of the minor roads and footpaths and defined the line of property boundaries’.
– Vivienne Blandford, ‘Tracing the Pale of the Ashdown Forest Deer Park’
I am standing beyond the Pale,
an ancient ditch from the thirteenth century
girdling Ashdown Forest.
Instead of royal deer
there is, drawn up, a Mini Roadster
with clip-on antlers.
Originally the Pale
had a fence of oak, and field evidence suggests
pales within pales
from breeching the enclosures.
Beyond the Pale…
it’s an apt expression
because I am returning home
from visiting family friends
in Forest Row.
Their children have special gifts,
reading auras and exhibition handwriting,
but my friend, unaccountably,
hid out in his office,
too ashamed to face me.
Skating home beyond the Pale,
I catch a glimpse of river reed
glittering in a marshy wood
like the glitter of friendship,
saying fuck you.
Displaying lamentable diligence during the final year of a divinity degree, Damon Moore tried his hand instead at poetic composition. An impressive period of self-imposed exile followed due to mysterious goings-on at a residential creative writing course in Devon but he has now returned to writing with a strong interest in the narrative form. Extracts from his extended poem based on the last decade of the life of Sylvia Plath were anthologised in Kindlings, the debut print publication of the online literary magazine Writer’s Edit, and his short-form poetry has found a home in RAUM Magazine, Eyot and The Flea. This year he has released a number of poetry films for his YouTube channel.
Image credit: Kate Moore