Wednesday, 18 November 2015

William Plomer, 'The Red Fault Lamp.'

'The Red Fault Lamp', William Plomer

An Apollo mission poem: more of an oddity than in Bowie's song. I don't know if it's in Plomer's Collected Poems. I found it in London Magazine: 25 Years, 1961-1985, edited by Alan Ross: a wonderful miscellany of contributors including Auden, Larkin, Nadine Gordimer, William Trevor and Keith Vaughan. Plomer's poem is presented in his handwriting.

The red fault lamp
in the zero reset push-button
is lit on one axis, look,
and it still stays lit
after fault setting, after checking
it still stays lit:
where do we go from here?

Another thing I don't know
is where should the x and y
oscilloscope input leads be connected
if a check is needed
of the optics signal waveform?
Look at the red fault lamp,
it still stays lit.

Somewhere something is wrong,
as it usually is;
after checking, after re-setting
who would ever have thought
the mean little red fault lamp
would still stay lit?
My third question: no answer.

From back there no answer,
nor likely to be now we're this far out
with the moon small as a nut.
I knew a girl went through life
as born, with only one tit,
and here we are, three nuts in space
with our red fault lamp still lit.