Dormant Fire

 

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The ancients believed the skies

Could be scried for secrets. Perhaps

Their astral lines were false.

 

But they may have found truths

In other substance,

 

That pagan belief that elemental fire

Lay dormant in material – wood, coal,

Books and men – there

Is truth in that.

 

Just as there is water in flowers,

Earth in mortal bones, and air

In every scent;

 

And that the aerial may rise

Whilst ash descends.

 

Yes, there is fire in books:

There is truth in that.

 

 

Stylistically simple poem, partially inspired by pagan concepts of the elements (the notion that fire, as a substance in itself, lies in flammable substances just waiting to be released in flame); and partially inspired by a growing anti-intellectualism here and overseas, denouncing anything theoretically inconvenient, to my mind, bordering on book-burning.

Farewell Note

 

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It stems in part from knowing

We won’t be there, at our end.

It will happen to someone else, as

It has always happened before, to somebody else.

 

And though every day ends as we know it must

With a final, last, long look at an

Untraceable sun, we raise

One final glass, do we not? One deep, final,

Fierce farewell to our friends;

But at the end of every night of your life,

As you leant over to close the door behind you,

You always said goodbye to your friends.

 

You signed up for nonexistence, babe.

Just as the final last laugh is

That snappy sign-off,

Your “That’s all, folks,”

As the credits roll,

A wink as the circle closes inwards:

 

The final punchline at the end

Of the contract is

The dotted line, the very final line

With your signature still wet.

 

The Monk’s Regret

 

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I tire of chewing and drily swallowing

This bread of life, praising gratefully

Even this first crust.

 

Some weighty meal is mine, this day-to-day.

I adorn the habit and the cowl, despite

A dry-mouthed vow.

 

I weary, heels so tightly following

Which tread this path, taking faithfully

Even faith’s dead steps.

 

Done, with this: their fine, deserving way.

I scorn the orisons of all, and wait

For my last dust.

 

 

I’m losing him to the night

 

 

I’m losing him to the night. These last

Few days looked up, found they were months.

Each time the door was shut behind,

Shook the house like a final word,

Each night.

 

A little of me leaves each time he leaves.

Some measure of me stays, brews the pot,

Sits tight for an approaching wind

Of my own imaginings.

 

I know it’s just me. I know it’s just me.

How could it be, each and every time,

That he is truly gone.

 

It’s only me. I know, it’s only me

Alone with my long-stewed tea.

 

It cannot be, I’m losing him to the night.

 

 

The Abbey Ruins

 

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As we step over the tumbled stone

And scattered masonry, you breathe

The dense dust rising at the hilltop.

 

An old archway is all that stands,

The rest a shattered temple, mere

Fragments of faith on the earth.

 

I pick up one piece of our history,

Heavy as guilt in the hand,

And let it drop to clattering silence.

 

And you believe that the old god watches

Over the world, still, from the sentry tower

Which has long since fallen.

Rope

 

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How long until you leave? A piece of string.

Whereas, sat here in the dark of

The old barn, I may as well be so much

Old rope.

 

Rough in the hands, beard bristle,

Somehow oiled, a smell like the years’ deep

White grey dust:

The same old yarn,

Asleep, a coiled dead snakeskin,

Shed.

 

But perched as I am upon

One high timber, haunting the oak

And looking down, there might well

Be length enough in me for

One last drop:

One fierce grasp for the beam,

That sore, tender gasp for air;

 

That last rough kiss to your neck,

Length enough to send you off

With a final, fond farewell.