Emile Sercombe

I wanted to write about Emile Sercombe, someone I am proud to have had as a friend and whose generous creativity deserves to be remembered in poetry, prose and artworks everywhere.
While thinking about how I personally might commemorate him, the question, ‘How far are you from a sense of wonder?’ came to mind.
It led to the poem below.
When I first thought the poem was finished, I gave it a too clever title, ‘Dumb, The End’. I also thought it couldn’t really be about Emile. It didn’t mention his gangly athleticism, his trust in people, his surreal imagination and humour, his intelligence or his extraordinary creative courage, that took on seemingly impossible projects, pushing himself to physical limits in his Tennis poem or setting up on the streets of Glasgow to regale bemused passers by with a verbal surrealism that most dared not stop long enough to fathom.

I have had a week to think about this and I now think the poem is about Emile. He was never far from wonder and lived as if he were asking us all the question, so I dedicate this to him. I hope he wouldn’t mind.

For Emile

How far are you from wonder?
Is it in the nearest child?
Is it on the face of a parent
or disguising itself in fact?

Is it in the eyes of a lover
or bubbling under the burble
of a faraway café?
Is it distant in time or just distant?

Did someone steal it?
Did you give it to someone
or just neglect it
and it shrank

and you just kept pretending
everything was OK?
Did you find it incompatible
with your seriousness?

Is it that once you came to understand
wonder is the blue black lid
on this plate of landscape washed by sea,
you knew there’s nothing else?

Was that knee quake,
heart desperate to speak moment,
when you kept dumb, the end?
Are you now cynical, first?

Is that what makes you insensitive?
Is that why it doesn’t matter
how far along the path
pre-worn by animals,

how vaulted the branches
of organic anarchy,
or how locking-on the view,
you will never feel alive
in a skinless moment
or experience woke as a sunrise?

ZQ May 2023

Hit By Debris

Which came first,
the sperm or the egg,
God or the ape
or the Ape God?
Which was it,
the nose coming round the corner
or the fingers on top of the wall?
Was it foot prints
filling with water
or an elbow holding the door
for the tray carrying tea
from India
or linen for a guest’s bed,
a cry or a crown
of the head,
hairs plastered with baptism juice?

In the procession of birth,
the shockwave, the flash of bright
heat, the skin cells falling
in sheets, the cushion of fat,
the pneumatics of breath,
hydraulics of blood, mechanicals
of tendons, muscle and bone,
lights industries – lungs and entrails –,
the wonders of anatomy,
was it
the working of a mind
on a float by of consciousness,
day’s scalpel piercing the curtains
to a blackbird accompaniment
that was first
or was it
the hair in the meeting places,
odour of bio-electric magnetism,
a new hard and a new soft,
rolling hills, cliffs,
water drum kits on rocks,
lighthouses like oak trees
all caught in one breath.

In the parade of delivery,
is it the leopard skinned band leader
juggling his wand
or the wound round of a rod
as a yarn is told
that precedes?

It all comes first.
It’s a wave front of birth.
Under thunderous samba clouds
knees pull shins and feet
over hurdles of beats,
hands hold together in prayer
or cradle water
to splash
a closed face awake,
an eye begins to open
small as a splinter of tear drop
on a lash, a tarn
in a mountain of other,
looking continues to find,
blows up a thin film of lick
of the world, of sky
and dark matter,
like a bubble on a pipe
of optic nerve.

Disturbing the blast fronts
your friends should be known as,
your birth is an explosion
that’s still going on
and long may it continue
to do so.

(1st read at Nick DD’s Birthday Celebration 11/06/2011)