The Ambridge Fountainhead
Howard Roark stands naked in the upper window
of a guest house twee enough to resemble
a tea cosy with fenestration. And laughs.
Twilight comes on – the thin, apologetic colour
of English breakfast tea without milk –
and Howard Roark pushes the blacker slab
of his barrel-chested shadow out across the village.
The shadow of an über-mensch. And he laughs.
Laughs that it has come to this. The absurdity of it!
The absurdity of England, of Ambridge, of being
asked to build a barn! Laughter answers him back:
a sharp jab of a laugh from the direction of The Bull –
a laugh like the lid slamming down on a tuneless piano.
And he knows what they’re saying. Well, let them talk,
let them laugh. He’ll build their barn, god damn it,
a barn that surpasses purpose, function and history;
a barn in glass and concrete; a monolith
of phallic supremacy that will tower over St Stephen’s
and render the word of God detumescent in the face
of the works of Man. Oh yes, he’ll build their barn.
He’ll redefine the concept of barns to allow for the word
“heroic”. A barn where tractors will clank and heave
like armoured vehicles. A barn to which fields of corn
will bow, self-reaped. A barn wherein a man
who’s man enough will clash in his naked manliness
with the volcanic lust of a woman unattainable to lesser men,
perhaps that aristocratic one from Lower Loxley Hall,
and their copulations will be like dynamite
in a slate quarry. Howard Roark pictures his über-barn
and the awestruck fear of peasants on the day
of its investiture, and he laughs, laughs, laughs
for half an episode until his landlady stomps upstairs
telling him to keep the noise down and put his trousers on.
Neil Fulwood is the author of film studies book The Films of Sam Peckinpah, and the co-editor, with David Sillitoe, of the forthcoming anthology More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe. His poetry has appeared in Prole, Clear Poetry, Defenestration, Your One Phone Call and New Boots & Pantisocracies. He lives, works and subsidizes pubs in Nottingham.