Rob A. Mackenzie












The poem below comes from towards the end of Rob A. Mackenzie’s freshly launched pamphlet Fleck and the Bank.  Fleck, an unconventional bank employee, has disappeared. A few months later, a letter-in-poetry arrives.



To Occupy an Absence

…now blankness can speak through me in blank verse (Ian Duhig)


Dear Rob,

The nights are short here and the days

Slip by in prayer or what I have learned to call

Prayer: the occupation of a stirring

Privation of thought in air with matter at hand,

With underhand mock-heroic power

Liturgically fuelled neither by common

Order nor disorder nor delusion,

Where hope springs abysmal, undermined

By temporal despair, but still attempts:

Take the sponge’s unfinished ode to mud,

The cook who spun blancmange in his own image,

Rimbaud’s valentine to Tom Verlaine –

Pointless, incongruous, I take my pen,

Replace blankness with a solid blank

Line and line of blank verse and a blank cheque’s

Inevitable bounce, and dedicate

Them to the heterodox and highly strung

Patron saint of plainsong maledictions

For unstringable lyre. She croons to me:


      To butterfingered guardians of the banks

     Patrolling selective memory blanks –

          Sing grace;


     To where the hype gyrates hip after hip

     While talent hiccups from its crypt –

          Sing grace;


     To memorabilia groupies hellbent

     On Nazi tat: Hitler’s tablecloth,

     Waxwork Belsen Commandant –

          Sing grace;


     To the boom and bust of certifiable facts

     Drifting from their origin in dust

     Jackets and unexamined acts –

          Sing grace;


Eine kleine Nachtmusik dissolving

Into daylight’s cursory rush; within

Each note a little death, diminuendo,

Undiminished by its power to hold

Only the merest resonance of grace,

To make nothing happen beyond a dim

Psalm sung among the gleaming neon signs.

Eyes down. Follow your ears.


Yours, Fleck




     To the self-effacing inconsolable

     And the too eagerly consoled –

          Sing grace;


     To literary artifice where curse

     Resembles blessing, blessing curse –

          Sing grace

     Or otherwise, and sing the difference.





Rob A. Mackenzie is from Glasgow and lives in Edinburgh. His publications are The Clown of Natural Sorrow (pamphlet, HappenStance Press 2005), The Opposite of Cabbage (Salt 2009) – and a new pamphlet, Fleck & the Bank (pamphlet, Salt 2012) . He is reviews editor for Magma Poetry magazine.




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