“But When”

 

For Blair. Inspired by and based on the two protagonists in Only Lovers Left Alive, played beautifully by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. After decades of living, loving and enjoying life, supported by their supernatural longevity, the couple start to realise that their eternal life demands upon much, much more than a mortal life requires. It requires a capacity to suffer lethargy, grief and infuriating powerlessness in the face of change. Although, I suppose the same applies to loves even between such as you and I. 

 

 

Our lives survive the seconds, hours, and days,

Outliving these. But we cannot face the years.

The longevity of ours by far repays

Our fatal fears,

 

And youth, like all young things, will soon betray us

And run to fairer friends. At last, alone,

We’ll age in grace, or comforts, in the layers

Of wants unknown

 

And we are given what we wish: what we have beckoned

Creeps upon us. But when must midnight chime?

Unveil the hour when we shall share that second:

Reveal the time.

 

 

Ballad of Our Dead Seasons

 

 

We died in the summer, when dragonflies danced

And blue was the sky and the touch of the stream.

We wandered through autumn, and struggling chanced

On an orchard of fruits that were gold as a dream.

We clung to the winter like whiteness to grass,

And kissed with a frostbite that clung to the pain.

By spring we were nothing, and let the green pass,

Both longing for summer to kill us, again.

 

 

I decided to write a ballad for the one I love. But it could never be a “Roses are red,” sincere, unconditional piece. It needed a little flavour, a pinch of morbidness. It combines a cyclical theme and structure, in its own way quite typical of seasonal ballads, with a nicely morose twist, which suits us quite well, I hope.

Love you Blair. I hope that we share many more seasons together.

 

Breach the Keep

 

We all make fortresses. Whether formed in stone

Or actions, we build ourselves to fortify.

To keep our keeps. To leave ourselves alone.

To occupy.

 

But now, besieged by touch insensible,

I fall to you. The plans that I have laid,

The castles of my mind defensible,

Are all unmade.

 

 

For Blair. 

The end of the chase

 

All good things, it is said, must go to their end:

As every road is plagued by destination

And every friendship pained for a loving friend,

So all things capable of lapsing, lapse.

We might cure illness, true: but then, perhaps

For life itself there is no medication.

The wave falls back on itself: a ball half-thrown

Faltering at the wrist, a failed last shot.

We take the fist of earth, last thing we own,

Thrown on the oak: we cling to a clod of earth,

Hold tight to clay, for all that clay is worth,

Chain ourselves to shadows we forgot.

But shadows feel no iron, and they grow:

The light draws lower, casting on the crest

Of every wave the coolness that we know

Of every darkening evening. And at last,

Turning to the failed waves of the past,

We break on them, and fall down cold, to rest.

 

 

Admittedly, not the happiest poem I have ever written. 

Coil

 

 

Talk over or ignore it at your peril,

This coil. It can only release once

Heightened to its tension. Only once

Strung to the epitome can it be

Fiercely unsprung. Curled up as tight

As a cryptid, hidden itself from truth,

Cave-dweller kept from discovery; its

Coiled tongue, rolled, rolled on itself,

Half fit to speak.

 

Talk over or ignore it at your peril,

This iron-tasting coil in my mouth:

For soon, I shall speak it out.

 

 

Briefly, On Evil

 

Why do we prefer villains? Even

Given one millionth of a chance, we’d do it;

Because risk is all, and because we adore

Our own gestures; because

When nobody’s looking, we all

Cast lightning.

 

 

You do, though, don’t you. You also make lightning noises. You pretend you can fire lasers and lift things with psychic powers. You do, because you must. 

“Cannot Cross Running Waters”

 

There’s an old myth about vampires / revenants / the like. They cannot cross running water. It may be a reference to the purifying, baptising effect of fresh water; it may also have been a reference to the Styx, or other “rivers of the dead,” over which these creatures will not, or cannot, cross to their salvation. 

 

We cannot go back. The living cannot pass

Where they have travelled: we cannot haunt that path.

 

We move on, east to west, and sunfire dies.

But vampires sleep in soil and memories:

 

For them, the flow of life itself is haunted:

The undead cannot cross over flowing waters.