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Muse of my native land! loftiest Muse!
O first-born on the mountains! by the hues
Of heaven on the spiritual air begot:
Long didst thou sit alone in northern grot,
While yet our England was a wolfish den;
Before our forests heard the talk of men;
Before the first of Druids was a child;--
Long didst thou sit amid our regions wild
Rapt in a deep prophetic solitude.
There came an eastern voice of solemn mood:--
Yet wast thou patient. Then sang forth the Nine,
Apollo's garland:--yet didst thou divine
Such home-bred glory, that they cry'd in vain,
"Come hither, Sister of the Island!" Plain
Spake fair Ausonia; and once more she spake
A higher summons:--still didst thou betake
Thee to thy native hopes. O thou hast won
A full accomplishment! The thing is done,
Which undone, these our latter days had risen
On barren souls. Great Muse, thou know'st what prison
Of flesh and bone, curbs, and confines, and frets
Our spirit's wings: despondency besets
Our pillows; and the fresh to-morrow morn
Seems to give forth its light in very scorn
Of our dull, uninspired, snail-paced lives.
Long have I said, how happy he who shrives
To thee! But then I thought on poets gone,
And could not pray:--nor can I now--so on
I move to the end in lowliness of heart.----

  "Ah, woe is me! that I should fondly part
From my dear native land! Ah, foolish maid!
Glad was the hour, when, with thee, myriads bade
Adieu to Ganges and their pleasant fields!
To one so friendless the clear freshet yields
A bitter coolness, the ripe grape is sour:
Yet I would have, great gods! but one short hour
Of native air--let me but die at home."

  Endymion to heaven's airy dome
Was offering up a hecatomb of vows,
When these words reach'd him. Whereupon he bows
His head through thorny-green entanglement
Of underwood, and to the sound is bent,
Anxious as hind towards her hidden fawn.

  "Is no one near to help me? No fair dawn
Of life from charitable voice? No sweet saying
To set my dull and sadden'd spirit playing?
No hand to toy with mine? No lips so sweet
That I may worship them? No eyelids meet
To twinkle on my *****? No one dies
Before me, till from these enslaving eyes
Redemption sparkles!--I am sad and lost."

  Thou, Carian lord, hadst better have been tost
Into a whirlpool. Vanish into air,
Warm mountaineer! for canst thou only bear
A woman's sigh alone and in distress?
See not her charms! Is Phoebe passionless?
Phoebe is fairer far--O gaze no more:--
Yet if thou wilt behold all beauty's store,
Behold her panting in the forest grass!
Do not those curls of glossy jet surpass
For tenderness the arms so idly lain
Amongst them? Feelest not a kindred pain,
To see such lovely eyes in swimming search
After some warm delight, that seems to perch
Dovelike in the dim cell lying beyond
Their upper lids?--Hist!             "O for Hermes' wand
To touch this flower into human shape!
That woodland Hyacinthus could escape
From his green prison, and here kneeling down
Call me his queen, his second life's fair crown!
Ah me, how I could love!--My soul doth melt
For the unhappy youth--Love! I have felt
So faint a kindness, such a meek surrender
To what my own full thoughts had made too tender,
That but for tears my life had fled away!--
Ye deaf and senseless minutes of the day,
And thou, old forest, hold ye this for true,
There is no lightning, no authentic dew
But in the eye of love: there's not a sound,
Melodious howsoever, can confound
The heavens and earth in one to such a death
As doth the voice of love: there's not a breath
Will mingle kindly with the meadow air,
Till it has panted round, and stolen a share
Of passion from the heart!"--

                              Upon a bough
He leant, wretched. He surely cannot now
Thirst for another love: O impious,
That he can even dream upon it thus!--
Thought he, "Why am I not as are the dead,
Since to a woe like this I have been led
Through the dark earth, and through the wondrous sea?
Goddess! I love thee not the less: from thee
By Juno's smile I turn not--no, no, no--
While the great waters are at ebb and flow.--
I have a triple soul! O fond pretence--
For both, for both my love is so immense,
I feel my heart is cut in twain for them."

  And so he groan'd, as one by beauty slain.
The lady's heart beat quick, and he could see
Her gentle ***** heave tumultuously.
He sprang from his green covert: there she lay,
Sweet as a muskrose upon new-made hay;
With all her limbs on tremble, and her eyes
Shut softly up alive. To speak he tries.
"Fair damsel, pity me! forgive that I
Thus violate thy bower's sanctity!
O pardon me, for I am full of grief--
Grief born of thee, young angel! fairest thief!
Who stolen hast away the wings wherewith
I was to top the heavens. Dear maid, sith
Thou art my executioner, and I feel
Loving and hatred, misery and weal,
Will in a few short hours be nothing to me,
And all my story that much passion slew me;
Do smile upon the evening of my days:
And, for my tortur'd brain begins to craze,
Be thou my nurse; and let me understand
How dying I shall kiss that lily hand.--
Dost weep for me? Then should I be content.
Scowl on, ye fates! until the firmament
Outblackens Erebus, and the full-cavern'd earth
Crumbles into itself. By the cloud girth
Of Jove, those tears have given me a thirst
To meet oblivion."--As her heart would burst
The maiden sobb'd awhile, and then replied:
"Why must such desolation betide
As that thou speakest of? Are not these green nooks
Empty of all misfortune? Do the brooks
Utter a gorgon voice? Does yonder thrush,
Schooling its half-fledg'd little ones to brush
About the dewy forest, whisper tales?--
Speak not of grief, young stranger, or cold snails
Will slime the rose to night. Though if thou wilt,
Methinks 'twould be a guilt--a very guilt--
Not to companion thee, and sigh away
The light--the dusk--the dark--till break of day!"
"Dear lady," said Endymion, "'tis past:
I love thee! and my days can never last.
That I may pass in patience still speak:
Let me have music dying, and I seek
No more delight--I bid adieu to all.
Didst thou not after other climates call,
And murmur about Indian streams?"--Then she,
Sitting beneath the midmost forest tree,
For pity sang this roundelay------

          "O Sorrow,
          Why dost borrow
The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?--
          To give maiden blushes
          To the white rose bushes?
Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips?

          "O Sorrow,
          Why dost borrow
The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?--
          To give the glow-worm light?
          Or, on a moonless night,
To tinge, on syren shores, the salt sea-spry?

          "O Sorrow,
          Why dost borrow
The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?--
          To give at evening pale
          Unto the nightingale,
That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?

          "O Sorrow,
          Why dost borrow
Heart's lightness from the merriment of May?--
          A lover would not tread
          A cowslip on the head,
Though he should dance from eve till peep of day--
          Nor any drooping flower
          Held sacred for thy bower,
Wherever he may sport himself and play.

          "To Sorrow
          I bade good-morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
          But cheerly, cheerly,
          She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind:
          I would deceive her
          And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind.

"Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
I sat a weeping: in the whole world wide
There was no one to ask me why I wept,--
          And so I kept
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
          Cold as my fears.

"Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
I sat a weeping: what enamour'd bride,
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
        But hides and shrouds
Beneath dark palm trees by a river side?

"And as I sat, over the light blue hills
There came a noise of revellers: the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue--
        'Twas Bacchus and his crew!
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din--
        'Twas Bacchus and his kin!
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crown'd with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
        To scare thee, Melancholy!
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when, in June,
Tall chesnuts keep away the sun and moon:--
        I rush'd into the folly!

"Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
        With sidelong laughing;
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
His plump white arms, and shoulders, enough white
        For Venus' pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ***,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
        Tipsily quaffing.

"Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye!
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
        Your lutes, and gentler fate?--
‘We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing?
        A conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:--
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
        To our wild minstrelsy!'

"Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye!
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
        Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?--
‘For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
        And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great God of breathless cups and chirping mirth!--
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
To our mad minstrelsy!'

"Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
        With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads--with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
Of ******, and stout galley-rowers' toil:
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
        Nor care for wind and tide.

"Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days' journey in a moment done:
And always, at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn,
        On spleenful unicorn.

"I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
        Before the vine-wreath crown!
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing
        To the silver cymbals' ring!
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
        Old Tartary the fierce!
The kings of Inde their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
        And all his priesthood moans;
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale.--
Into these regions came I following him,
Sick hearted, weary--so I took a whim
To stray away into these forests drear
        Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.

          "Young stranger!
          I've been a ranger
In search of pleasure throughout every clime:
          Alas! 'tis not for me!
          Bewitch'd I sure must be,
To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.

          "Come then, Sorrow!
          Sweetest Sorrow!
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast:
          I thought to leave thee
          And deceive thee,
But now of all the world I love thee best.

          "There is not one,
          No, no, not one
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;
          Thou art her mother,
          And her brother,
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade."

  O what a sigh she gave in finishing,
And look, quite dead to every worldly thing!
Endymion could not speak, but gazed on her;
And listened to the wind that now did stir
About the crisped oaks full drearily,
Yet with as sweet a softness as might be
Remember'd from its velvet summer song.
At last he said: "Poor lady, how thus long
Have I been able to endure that voice?
Fair Melody! kind Syren! I've no choice;
I must be thy sad servant evermore:
I cannot choose but kneel here and adore.
Alas, I must not think--by Phoebe, no!
Let me not think, soft Angel! shall it be so?
Say, beautifullest, shall I never think?
O thou could'st foster me beyond the brink
Of recollection! make my watchful care
Close up its bloodshot eyes, nor see despair!
Do gently ****** half my soul, and I
Shall feel the other half so utterly!--
I'm giddy at that cheek so fair and smooth;
O let it blush so ever! let it soothe
My madness! let it mantle rosy-warm
With the tinge of love, panting in safe alarm.--
This cannot be thy hand, and yet it is;
And this is sure thine other softling--this
Thine own fair *****, and I am so near!
Wilt fall asleep? O let me sip that tear!
And whisper one sweet word that I may know
This is this world--sweet dewy blossom!"--Woe!
Woe! Woe to that Endymion! Where is he?--
Even these words went echoing dismally
Through the wide forest--a most fearful tone,
Like one repenting in his latest moan;
And while it died away a shade pass'd by,
As of a thunder cloud. When arrows fly
Through the thick branches, poor ring-doves sleek forth
Their timid necks and tremble; so these both
Leant to each other trembling, and sat so
Waiting for some destruction--when lo,
Foot-fe
howard brace Jan 2013
Despite repeatedly shaking her pincer... much as a sprightly pensioner might brandish a furled umbrella at a grappling contestant, currently being boo'd at in the red corner... the baby crab stamped her foot in annoyance as she glowered at every passing wave that rolled along the shoreline.  In absolving herself of any guilt she may have felt over her prolonged excursion, she had become, even further marooned by a failure to catch a succession of tides back home, an oversight she later confessed, to observe local tide-tables in 'Old More's Almanac...' on sale in all discerning book shops and selected High Street newsagents, priced 10/6d... for unless fluent in the Russian vernacular, it was just about as articulate to the little crab as a map of the Moscow Metro during a blackout, only to have the Rouble finally drop with a throat gagging 'Gaaargh...' clunk, that you were currently standing on the down-line platform, when you should've been stood on the up... as the last train lurched unsteadily out of the station whistling a jubilant entente cordiale... 'wish me luck as you wave me dasvidaniya'.

     Still stamping her foot, only now in strict rotation with the other seven, the baby crustacean peered out from beneath the shade of the large pebble, rearing its bulk out of the rockpool like a lollypop-lady's 'STOP'!!! sign, her beady eyes twitching independently, first this way, then the other, cut withering swathes through every cardinal point of the compass that didn't duck quite fast enough, was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the rock-pool in which she found herself tapping her foot in today, would be no less aquatic as any other rockpool that she may find herself still tapping a foot in tomorrow and that the best course of action was simply to stay-put and take the matter up with the local town council, then petition for additional fare-stages to be implemented... and with the cost of shoe leather at current prices... well, with eight legs to consider it would make savings that weren't to be sneezed at.  

     It wasn't everyday of the week that a young and upwardly mobile baby crustacean had occasion to move both up-market and down the beach, all in the same mouthful... and into what could only be regarded as a desirable, detached beachfront property, a rock-pool of distinction with all available mod-cons.  She felt relieved that apart from the occasional day-tripper, who invariably dropped litter wherever they went, that a baby crab of distinction such as herself, was certain to be accepted socially and hob-*** with a new and discerning circle of acquaintances... you only had to take that nice lady earlier in the week, they both seemed to have so much in common... then she would roll up her sleeves and really show the neighbourhood what knitting was all about...  

     With as much enthusiasm as that of a three year old screaming for an ice-cream in the middle of an heat-wave, Red marched up the beach and as far from his wife's waspish tongue as a lame excuse would carry him, heading back towards the growing crush of holidaymaking fathers who were only there presumably, for the sake of their own children, laying siege to the mobile vendor... only this time, having already stood in the same queue ten minutes earlier, now had a sufficiency of funds to purchase that which he'd unsuccessfully queued for the first time.

      After an unspecified time which by his wife's reckoning was grounds for divorce... Red, now laden down with the iced confectionary picked his way through the same throng of fathers who moments earlier had been happily chatting in the queue together, were now enjoying the same berating as the one Red was looking forward to as he made his way back towards the rock pool, juggling more ice-cream than two manly hands could intelligently control... while in a bid for freedom, the rapidly thawing confectionary were hatching plans of their own, ones quite independent from those intended as they embarked upon their meandering exodus, known only to iced creamy desserts on hot sunny days... and into the unknown, roaming across Red's hands and trusting their fate to a far higher authority.

     "Did I mention that I was on a diet" snapped his significant other, as she sat licking pistachios from the melting cornet... "don't you ever listen," secretly smiling to herself... "and you did remember to bring Sockeye's water this morning.. didn't you..!" she continued "someone with half as much sense would've stood it in the rockpool to keep cool, I'm sure the little crab wouldn't have objected..!"   At the mention of his name, Sockeye with ears far too free-lance to ever consider gainful employment of their own, needed no further persuasion and charged straight through the rock-pool to his mistress's side, walloping the thermos flask for a tail whopping six... bringing his personal batting average so far this holiday to a self congratulatory forty not out... and found the baby crab spluttering flat on her back and having second thoughts on any immediate savings in shoe leather were she to stay. 

     Generous to a fault, Sockeye now thought to shower everyone's ice cream with liberal helpings of the seashore as several parasitic irritations had Sockeye hard at work serving eviction notices on some of the more exotic zoology that only a patent Bob Martin's would dare to muscle up to... the local wildlife, by the look on his face were having the time of their lives bivouacked behind his left ear, throwing wild parties and disturbing the peace.  Cross-eyed, it was only while launching a double pronged assault on the latest settlement of interlopers that Sockeye finally succumbed to his injuries and surrendered to a neighbouring sandcastle... it really didn't do to mention a certain name too loudly at times like these, especially when you just happened to be on the receiving end.

     For some strange reason he was undoubtedly in the dog house... they'd shouted at him, which made him sad, all except his little master who had pushed him away... which left him bereft.  Sockeye sat down on dads beach-towel and had a long, thoughtful scratch... where had all the fuss gone? he searched for appreciation their faces... his tail gave one disheartened thump before it stopped... and all those little pieces of ice-cream dipped wafer, which up until now had always appeared as if by magic.  

     Catching sight of one such treat, undoubtedly forgotten by the rock pool, a marauding seagull pulled out of a rolling dive and swooped, at the same instant as two gaping jaws launched themselves skywards... canine jowls quivering bravely in the light sea airs... and not too dissimilar to a heat seeking missile, rose gracefully from the ground to meet it... 'well intercepted..!' as both ears applauded in mid-air... no aerial freeloader was about to skip town with Sockeye's ice cream wafer without paying... leaving one solitary wing flapping its willingness to pay up.

     At least it kept her husband in useful employment Tina decided... and mercifully out from under her feet, as she brushed a fragment of affectionate pistachio from her bikini top... she'd have to  make sure he went for the ices in future... and without the means to pay for them... a mischievous smile turned the corners of her mouth as she leant towards the beach-bag and invested herself with several more juicy grapes... that everyone who fell within her sphere of influence had been warned well away from... under threat of dire consequence... and it would take a brave man indeed, or a very foolish one... she gave her husband who was sitting well within arms reach a caustic glance... and Tina's particular variety of justice had a very long arm indeed.

                                                        ­           ...   ...   ...**

a work in progress.                                                        ­                                                                 ­  1297
Nigel Morgan Jun 2013
She sent it to me as a text message, that is an image of a quote in situ, a piece of interpretation in a gallery. Saturday morning and I was driving home from a week in a remote cottage on a mountain. I had stopped to take one last look at the sea, where I usually take one last look, and the phone bleeped. A text message, but no text.  Just a photo of some words. It made me smile, the impossibility of it. Epic poems and tapestry weaving. Of course there are connections, in that for centuries the epic subject has so often been the stuff of the tapestry weaver’s art. I say this glibly, but cannot name a particular tapestry where this might be so. Those vast Arthurian pieces by William Morris to pictures by Burne-Jones have an epic quality both in scale and in subject, but, to my shame, I can’t put a name to one.

These days the tapestry can be epic once more - in size and intention - thanks to the successful, moneyed contemporary artist and those communities of weavers at West Dean and at Edinburgh’s Dovecot. Think of Grayson Perry’s The Walthamstowe Tapestry, a vast 3 x 15 metres executed by Ghentian weavers, a veritable apocalyptic vision where ‘Everyman, spat out at birth in a pool of blood, is doomed and predestined to spend his life navigating a chaotic yet banal landscape of brands and consumerism’.  Gosh! Doesn’t that sound epic!

I was at the Dovecot a little while ago, but the public gallery was closed. The weavers were too busy finishing Victoria Crowe’s Large Tree Group to cope with visitors. You see, I do know a little about this world even though my tapestry weaving is the sum total of three weekends tuition, even though I have a very large loom once owned by Marta Rogoyska. It languishes next door in the room that was going to be where I was to weave, where I was going to become someone other than I am. This is what I feel - just sometimes - when I’m at my floor loom, if only for those brief spells when life languishes sufficiently for me be slow and calm enough to pick up the shuttles and find the right coloured yarns. But I digress. In fact putting together tapestry and epic poetry is a digression from the intention of the quote on the image from that text - (it was from a letter to Janey written in Iceland). Her husband, William Morris, reckoned one could (indeed should) be able to compose an epic poem and weave a tapestry.  

This notion, this idea that such a thing as being actively poetic and throwing a pick or two should go hand in hand, and, in Morris’ words, be a required skill (or ‘he’d better shut up’), seemed (and still does a day later) an absurdity. Would such a man (must be a man I suppose) ‘never do any good at all’ because he can’t weave and compose epic poetry simultaneously?  Clearly so.  But then Morris wove his tapestries very early in the morning - often on a loom in his bedroom. Janey, I imagine, as with ladies of her day - she wasn’t one, being a stableman’s daughter, but she became one reading fluently in French and Italian and playing Beethoven on the piano- she had her own bedroom.

Do you know there are nights when I wish for my own room, even when sleeping with the one I love, as so often I wake in the night, and I lie there afraid (because I love her dearly and care for her precious rest) to disturb her sleep with reading or making notes, both of which I do when I’m alone.
Yet how very seductive is the idea of joining my loved one in her own space, amongst her fallen clothes, her books and treasures, her archives and precious things, those many letters folded into her bedside bookcase, and the little black books full of tender poems and attempts at sketches her admirer has bequeathed her when distant and apart. Equally seductive is the possibility of the knock on the bedroom / workroom door, and there she’ll be there like the woman in Michael Donaghy’s poem, a poem I find every time I search for it in his Collected Works one of the most arousing and ravishing pieces of verse I know: it makes me smile and imagine.  . .  Her personal vanishing point, she said, came when she leant against his study door all warm and wet and whispered 'Paolo’. Only she’ll say something in a barely audible voice like ‘Can I disturb you?’ and with her sparkling smile come in, and bring with her two cats and the hint of a naked breast nestling in the gap of the fold of her yellow Chinese gown she holds close to herself - so when she kneels on my single bed this gown opens and her beauty falls before her, and I am wholly, utterly lost that such loveliness is and can be so . . .

When I see a beautiful house, as I did last Thursday, far in the distance by an estuary-side, sheltering beneath wooded hills, and moor and rock-coloured mountains, with its long veranda, painted white, I imagine. I imagine our imaginary home where, when our many children are not staying in the summer months and work is impossible, we will live our ‘together yet apart’ lives. And there will be the joy of work. I will be like Ben Nicholson in that Italian villa his father-in-law bought, and have my workroom / bedroom facing a stark hillside with nothing but a carpenter’s table to lay out my scores. Whilst she, like Winifred, will work at a tidy table in her bedroom, a vase of spring flowers against the window with the estuary and the mountains beyond. Yes, her bedroom, not his, though their bed, their wonderful wooden 19C Swiss bed of oak, occupies this room and yes, in his room there is just a single affair, but robust, that he would sleep on when lunch had been late and friends had called, or they had been out calling and he wanted to give her the premise of having to go back to work – to be alone - when in fact he was going to sleep and dream, but she? She would work into the warm afternoons with the barest breeze tickling her bare feet, her body moving with the remembrance of his caresses as she woke him that morning from his deep, dark slumber. ‘Your brown eyes’, he would whisper, ‘your dear brown eyes the colour of an autumn leaf damp with dew’. And she would surround him with kisses and touch of her firm, long body and (before she cut her plaits) let her course long hair flow back and forward across his chest. And she did this because she knew he would later need the loneliness of his own space, need to put her aside, whereas she loved the scent of him in the room in which she worked, with his discarded clothes, the neck-tie on the door hanger he only reluctantly wore.

Back to epic poetry and its possibility. Even on its own, as a single, focused activity it seems to me, unadventurous poet that I am, an impossibility. But then, had I lived in the 1860s, it would probably not have seemed so difficult. There was no Radio 4 blathering on, no bleeb of arriving texts on the mobile. There were servants to see to supper, a nanny to keep the children at bay. At Kelmscott there was glorious Gloucestershire silence - only the roll and squeak of the wagon in the road and the rooks roosting. So, in the early mornings Morris could kneel at his vertical loom and, with a Burne-Jones cartoon to follow set behind the warp. With his yarns ready to hand, it would be like a modern child’s painting by numbers, his mind would be free to explore the fairy domain, the Icelandic sagas, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Kalevara from Finland, and write (in his head) an epic poem. These were often elaborations and retellings in his epic verse style of Norse and Icelandic sagas with titles like Sigurd the Volsung. Paul Thompson once said of Morris  ‘his method was to think out a poem in his head while he was busy at some other work.  He would sit at an easel, charcoal or brush in hand, working away at a design while he muttered to himself, 'bumble-beeing' as his family called it; then, when he thought he had got the lines, he would get up from the easel, prowl round the room still muttering, returning occasionally to add a touch to the design; then suddenly he would dash to the table and write out twenty or so lines.  As his pen slowed down, he would be looking around, and in a moment would be at work on another design.  Later, Morris would look at what he had written, and if he did not like it he would put it aside and try again.  But this way of working meant that he never submitted a draft to the painful evaluation which poetry requires’.

Let’s try a little of Sigurd

There was a dwelling of Kings ere the world was waxen old;
Dukes were the door-wards there, and the roofs were thatched with gold;
Earls were the wrights that wrought it, and silver nailed its doors;
Earls' wives were the weaving-women, queens' daughters strewed its floors,

And the masters of its song-craft were the mightiest men that cast
The sails of the storm of battle down the bickering blast.
There dwelt men merry-hearted, and in hope exceeding great
Met the good days and the evil as they went the way of fate:
There the Gods were unforgotten, yea whiles they walked with men,

Though e'en in that world's beginning rose a murmur now and again
Of the midward time and the fading and the last of the latter days,
And the entering in of the terror, and the death of the People's Praise.

Oh dear. And to think he sustained such poetry for another 340 lines, and that’s just book 1 of 4. So what dear reader, dear sender of that text image encouraging me to weave and write, just what would epic poetry be now? Where must one go for inspiration? Somewhere in the realms of sci-fi, something after Star-Wars or Ninja Warriors. It could be post-apocalyptic, a tale of mutants and a world damaged by chemicals or economic melt-down. Maybe a rich adventure of travel on a distant planet (with Sigourney Weaver of course), featuring brave deeds and the selfless heroism of saving companions from deadly encounters with amazing animals, monsters even. Or is ‘epic’ something else, something altogether beyond the Pixar Studios or James Cameron’s imagination? Is the  ‘epic’ now the province of AI boldly generating the computer game in 4D?  

And the epic poem? People once bought and read such published romances as they now buy and engage with on-line games. This is where the epic now belongs. On the tablet, PlayStation3, the X-Box. But, but . . . Poetry is so alive and well as a performance phenomenon, and with that oh so vigorous and relentless beat. Hell, look who won the T.S.Eliot prize this year! Story-telling lives and there are tales to be told, even if they are set in housing estates and not the ice caves of the frozen planet Golp. Just think of children’s literature, so rich and often so wild. This is word invention that revisits unashamedly those myths and sagas Morris loved, but in a different guise, with different names, in worlds that still bring together the incredible geographies of mountains and deserts and wilderness places, with fortresses and walled cities, and the startling, still unknown, yet to be discovered ocean depths.

                                    And so let my tale begin . . . My epic poem.

                                                 THE SEAGASP OF ENNLI.
       A TALE IN VERSE OF EARTHQUAKE, ISLAND FASTNESS, MALEVOLENT SPIRITS,
                                                AND REDEMPTIVE LOVE.
This English Thames is holier far than Rome,
Those harebells like a sudden flush of sea
Breaking across the woodland, with the foam
Of meadow-sweet and white anemone
To fleck their blue waves,—God is likelier there
Than hidden in that crystal-hearted star the pale monks bear!

Those violet-gleaming butterflies that take
Yon creamy lily for their pavilion
Are monsignores, and where the rushes shake
A lazy pike lies basking in the sun,
His eyes half shut,—he is some mitred old
Bishop in partibus! look at those gaudy scales all green and gold.

The wind the restless prisoner of the trees
Does well for Palaestrina, one would say
The mighty master’s hands were on the keys
Of the Maria *****, which they play
When early on some sapphire Easter morn
In a high litter red as blood or sin the Pope is borne

From his dark House out to the Balcony
Above the bronze gates and the crowded square,
Whose very fountains seem for ecstasy
To toss their silver lances in the air,
And stretching out weak hands to East and West
In vain sends peace to peaceless lands, to restless nations rest.

Is not yon lingering orange after-glow
That stays to vex the moon more fair than all
Rome’s lordliest pageants! strange, a year ago
I knelt before some crimson Cardinal
Who bare the Host across the Esquiline,
And now—those common poppies in the wheat seem twice as fine.

The blue-green beanfields yonder, tremulous
With the last shower, sweeter perfume bring
Through this cool evening than the odorous
Flame-jewelled censers the young deacons swing,
When the grey priest unlocks the curtained shrine,
And makes God’s body from the common fruit of corn and vine.

Poor Fra Giovanni bawling at the mass
Were out of tune now, for a small brown bird
Sings overhead, and through the long cool grass
I see that throbbing throat which once I heard
On starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady,
Once where the white and crescent sand of Salamis meets sea.

Sweet is the swallow twittering on the eaves
At daybreak, when the mower whets his scythe,
And stock-doves murmur, and the milkmaid leaves
Her little lonely bed, and carols blithe
To see the heavy-lowing cattle wait
Stretching their huge and dripping mouths across the farmyard gate.

And sweet the hops upon the Kentish leas,
And sweet the wind that lifts the new-mown hay,
And sweet the fretful swarms of grumbling bees
That round and round the linden blossoms play;
And sweet the heifer breathing in the stall,
And the green bursting figs that hang upon the red-brick wall,

And sweet to hear the cuckoo mock the spring
While the last violet loiters by the well,
And sweet to hear the shepherd Daphnis sing
The song of Linus through a sunny dell
Of warm Arcadia where the corn is gold
And the slight lithe-limbed reapers dance about the wattled fold.

And sweet with young Lycoris to recline
In some Illyrian valley far away,
Where canopied on herbs amaracine
We too might waste the summer-tranced day
Matching our reeds in sportive rivalry,
While far beneath us frets the troubled purple of the sea.

But sweeter far if silver-sandalled foot
Of some long-hidden God should ever tread
The Nuneham meadows, if with reeded flute
Pressed to his lips some Faun might raise his head
By the green water-flags, ah! sweet indeed
To see the heavenly herdsman call his white-fleeced flock to feed.

Then sing to me thou tuneful chorister,
Though what thou sing’st be thine own requiem!
Tell me thy tale thou hapless chronicler
Of thine own tragedies! do not contemn
These unfamiliar haunts, this English field,
For many a lovely coronal our northern isle can yield

Which Grecian meadows know not, many a rose
Which all day long in vales AEolian
A lad might seek in vain for over-grows
Our hedges like a wanton courtesan
Unthrifty of its beauty; lilies too
Ilissos never mirrored star our streams, and cockles blue

Dot the green wheat which, though they are the signs
For swallows going south, would never spread
Their azure tents between the Attic vines;
Even that little **** of ragged red,
Which bids the robin pipe, in Arcady
Would be a trespasser, and many an unsung elegy

Sleeps in the reeds that fringe our winding Thames
Which to awake were sweeter ravishment
Than ever Syrinx wept for; diadems
Of brown bee-studded orchids which were meant
For Cytheraea’s brows are hidden here
Unknown to Cytheraea, and by yonder pasturing steer

There is a tiny yellow daffodil,
The butterfly can see it from afar,
Although one summer evening’s dew could fill
Its little cup twice over ere the star
Had called the lazy shepherd to his fold
And be no prodigal; each leaf is flecked with spotted gold

As if Jove’s gorgeous leman Danae
Hot from his gilded arms had stooped to kiss
The trembling petals, or young Mercury
Low-flying to the dusky ford of Dis
Had with one feather of his pinions
Just brushed them! the slight stem which bears the burden of its suns

Is hardly thicker than the gossamer,
Or poor Arachne’s silver tapestry,—
Men say it bloomed upon the sepulchre
Of One I sometime worshipped, but to me
It seems to bring diviner memories
Of faun-loved Heliconian glades and blue nymph-haunted seas,

Of an untrodden vale at Tempe where
On the clear river’s marge Narcissus lies,
The tangle of the forest in his hair,
The silence of the woodland in his eyes,
Wooing that drifting imagery which is
No sooner kissed than broken; memories of Salmacis

Who is not boy nor girl and yet is both,
Fed by two fires and unsatisfied
Through their excess, each passion being loth
For love’s own sake to leave the other’s side
Yet killing love by staying; memories
Of Oreads peeping through the leaves of silent moonlit trees,

Of lonely Ariadne on the wharf
At Naxos, when she saw the treacherous crew
Far out at sea, and waved her crimson scarf
And called false Theseus back again nor knew
That Dionysos on an amber pard
Was close behind her; memories of what Maeonia’s bard

With sightless eyes beheld, the wall of Troy,
Queen Helen lying in the ivory room,
And at her side an amorous red-lipped boy
Trimming with dainty hand his helmet’s plume,
And far away the moil, the shout, the groan,
As Hector shielded off the spear and Ajax hurled the stone;

Of winged Perseus with his flawless sword
Cleaving the snaky tresses of the witch,
And all those tales imperishably stored
In little Grecian urns, freightage more rich
Than any gaudy galleon of Spain
Bare from the Indies ever! these at least bring back again,

For well I know they are not dead at all,
The ancient Gods of Grecian poesy:
They are asleep, and when they hear thee call
Will wake and think ‘t is very Thessaly,
This Thames the Daulian waters, this cool glade
The yellow-irised mead where once young Itys laughed and played.

If it was thou dear jasmine-cradled bird
Who from the leafy stillness of thy throne
Sang to the wondrous boy, until he heard
The horn of Atalanta faintly blown
Across the Cumnor hills, and wandering
Through Bagley wood at evening found the Attic poets’ spring,—

Ah! tiny sober-suited advocate
That pleadest for the moon against the day!
If thou didst make the shepherd seek his mate
On that sweet questing, when Proserpina
Forgot it was not Sicily and leant
Across the mossy Sandford stile in ravished wonderment,—

Light-winged and bright-eyed miracle of the wood!
If ever thou didst soothe with melody
One of that little clan, that brotherhood
Which loved the morning-star of Tuscany
More than the perfect sun of Raphael
And is immortal, sing to me! for I too love thee well.

Sing on! sing on! let the dull world grow young,
Let elemental things take form again,
And the old shapes of Beauty walk among
The simple garths and open crofts, as when
The son of Leto bare the willow rod,
And the soft sheep and shaggy goats followed the boyish God.

Sing on! sing on! and Bacchus will be here
Astride upon his gorgeous Indian throne,
And over whimpering tigers shake the spear
With yellow ivy crowned and gummy cone,
While at his side the wanton Bassarid
Will throw the lion by the mane and catch the mountain kid!

Sing on! and I will wear the leopard skin,
And steal the mooned wings of Ashtaroth,
Upon whose icy chariot we could win
Cithaeron in an hour ere the froth
Has over-brimmed the wine-vat or the Faun
Ceased from the treading! ay, before the flickering lamp of dawn

Has scared the hooting owlet to its nest,
And warned the bat to close its filmy vans,
Some Maenad girl with vine-leaves on her breast
Will filch their beech-nuts from the sleeping Pans
So softly that the little nested thrush
Will never wake, and then with shrilly laugh and leap will rush

Down the green valley where the fallen dew
Lies thick beneath the elm and count her store,
Till the brown Satyrs in a jolly crew
Trample the loosestrife down along the shore,
And where their horned master sits in state
Bring strawberries and bloomy plums upon a wicker crate!

Sing on! and soon with passion-wearied face
Through the cool leaves Apollo’s lad will come,
The Tyrian prince his bristled boar will chase
Adown the chestnut-copses all a-bloom,
And ivory-limbed, grey-eyed, with look of pride,
After yon velvet-coated deer the ****** maid will ride.

Sing on! and I the dying boy will see
Stain with his purple blood the waxen bell
That overweighs the jacinth, and to me
The wretched Cyprian her woe will tell,
And I will kiss her mouth and streaming eyes,
And lead her to the myrtle-hidden grove where Adon lies!

Cry out aloud on Itys! memory
That foster-brother of remorse and pain
Drops poison in mine ear,—O to be free,
To burn one’s old ships! and to launch again
Into the white-plumed battle of the waves
And fight old Proteus for the spoil of coral-flowered caves!

O for Medea with her poppied spell!
O for the secret of the Colchian shrine!
O for one leaf of that pale asphodel
Which binds the tired brows of Proserpine,
And sheds such wondrous dews at eve that she
Dreams of the fields of Enna, by the far Sicilian sea,

Where oft the golden-girdled bee she chased
From lily to lily on the level mead,
Ere yet her sombre Lord had bid her taste
The deadly fruit of that pomegranate seed,
Ere the black steeds had harried her away
Down to the faint and flowerless land, the sick and sunless day.

O for one midnight and as paramour
The Venus of the little Melian farm!
O that some antique statue for one hour
Might wake to passion, and that I could charm
The Dawn at Florence from its dumb despair,
Mix with those mighty limbs and make that giant breast my lair!

Sing on! sing on!  I would be drunk with life,
Drunk with the trampled vintage of my youth,
I would forget the wearying wasted strife,
The riven veil, the Gorgon eyes of Truth,
The prayerless vigil and the cry for prayer,
The barren gifts, the lifted arms, the dull insensate air!

Sing on! sing on!  O feathered Niobe,
Thou canst make sorrow beautiful, and steal
From joy its sweetest music, not as we
Who by dead voiceless silence strive to heal
Our too untented wounds, and do but keep
Pain barricadoed in our hearts, and ****** pillowed sleep.

Sing louder yet, why must I still behold
The wan white face of that deserted Christ,
Whose bleeding hands my hands did once enfold,
Whose smitten lips my lips so oft have kissed,
And now in mute and marble misery
Sits in his lone dishonoured House and weeps, perchance for me?

O Memory cast down thy wreathed shell!
Break thy hoarse lute O sad Melpomene!
O Sorrow, Sorrow keep thy cloistered cell
Nor dim with tears this limpid Castaly!
Cease, Philomel, thou dost the forest wrong
To vex its sylvan quiet with such wild impassioned song!

Cease, cease, or if ‘t is anguish to be dumb
Take from the pastoral thrush her simpler air,
Whose jocund carelessness doth more become
This English woodland than thy keen despair,
Ah! cease and let the north wind bear thy lay
Back to the rocky hills of Thrace, the stormy Daulian bay.

A moment more, the startled leaves had stirred,
Endymion would have passed across the mead
Moonstruck with love, and this still Thames had heard
Pan plash and paddle groping for some reed
To lure from her blue cave that Naiad maid
Who for such piping listens half in joy and half afraid.

A moment more, the waking dove had cooed,
The silver daughter of the silver sea
With the fond gyves of clinging hands had wooed
Her wanton from the chase, and Dryope
Had ****** aside the branches of her oak
To see the ***** gold-haired lad rein in his snorting yoke.

A moment more, the trees had stooped to kiss
Pale Daphne just awakening from the swoon
Of tremulous laurels, lonely Salmacis
Had bared his barren beauty to the moon,
And through the vale with sad voluptuous smile
Antinous had wandered, the red lotus of the Nile

Down leaning from his black and clustering hair,
To shade those slumberous eyelids’ caverned bliss,
Or else on yonder grassy ***** with bare
High-tuniced limbs unravished Artemis
Had bade her hounds give tongue, and roused the deer
From his green ambuscade with shrill halloo and pricking spear.

Lie still, lie still, O passionate heart, lie still!
O Melancholy, fold thy raven wing!
O sobbing Dryad, from thy hollow hill
Come not with such despondent answering!
No more thou winged Marsyas complain,
Apollo loveth not to hear such troubled songs of pain!

It was a dream, the glade is tenantless,
No soft Ionian laughter moves the air,
The Thames creeps on in sluggish leadenness,
And from the copse left desolate and bare
Fled is young Bacchus with his revelry,
Yet still from Nuneham wood there comes that thrilling melody

So sad, that one might think a human heart
Brake in each separate note, a quality
Which music sometimes has, being the Art
Which is most nigh to tears and memory;
Poor mourning Philomel, what dost thou fear?
Thy sister doth not haunt these fields, Pandion is not here,

Here is no cruel Lord with murderous blade,
No woven web of ****** heraldries,
But mossy dells for roving comrades made,
Warm valleys where the tired student lies
With half-shut book, and many a winding walk
Where rustic lovers stray at eve in happy simple talk.

The harmless rabbit gambols with its young
Across the trampled towing-path, where late
A troop of laughing boys in jostling throng
Cheered with their noisy cries the racing eight;
The gossamer, with ravelled silver threads,
Works at its little loom, and from the dusky red-eaved sheds

Of the lone Farm a flickering light shines out
Where the swinked shepherd drives his bleating flock
Back to their wattled sheep-cotes, a faint shout
Comes from some Oxford boat at Sandford lock,
And starts the moor-hen from the sedgy rill,
And the dim lengthening shadows flit like swallows up the hill.

The heron passes homeward to the mere,
The blue mist creeps among the shivering trees,
Gold world by world the silent stars appear,
And like a blossom blown before the breeze
A white moon drifts across the shimmering sky,
Mute arbitress of all thy sad, thy rapturous threnody.

She does not heed thee, wherefore should she heed,
She knows Endymion is not far away;
’Tis I, ’tis I, whose soul is as the reed
Which has no message of its own to play,
So pipes another’s bidding, it is I,
Drifting with every wind on the wide sea of misery.

Ah! the brown bird has ceased:  one exquisite trill
About the sombre woodland seems to cling
Dying in music, else the air is still,
So still that one might hear the bat’s small wing
Wander and wheel above the pines, or tell
Each tiny dew-drop dripping from the bluebell’s brimming cell.

And far away across the lengthening wold,
Across the willowy flats and thickets brown,
Magdalen’s tall tower tipped with tremulous gold
Marks the long High Street of the little town,
And warns me to return; I must not wait,
Hark! ’Tis the curfew booming from the bell at Christ Church gate.
Edward Coles Jul 2014
“You know the worst thing I ever saw?” He asked.

I sighed to myself, took another gulp of beer and fixed him with a look of half-interest. He was drunk. A complete ****-up and a bore when he's drunk. I don't know why I drink with him. That said, he probably thinks the same.

“What's that?”
“Bedsheets over the benches in the church yard.”
“Ye-what?”
“Bedsheets over the benches in the church yard. For the homeless.”
“The homeless. Right.”
“I'll get us another drink.” he says, “then I'll start where I left off.”
“Oh, good.”

He comes back with two bottles. We drink and we start talking about football. We're just about getting by before he raises his palm to his face.
“Aw, ****. I forgot, yeah. The worst thing I ever saw. I never told you.”
“You did. Bedsheets over the benches in the church yard. For the homeless.”
“Yeah yeah, but that doesn't really say much, does it? You're probably wondering to yourself why that would **** me off so much?”

Not really. He's the type of no-action, all-caring, bleeding heart that sits on his fattening **** every day, 'liking' rhetorical captions over pictures, and signing petitions to axe some ***** politician or other.
“I guess. Shoot.”

He shoots.
“I wanna burn down the churches. Seriously. Stupid ******* religious folk. I bet they go home and post pictures up of themselves, all busy in the soup kitchen, ladling minestrone into some poor *******'s styrofoam bowl.
“They'll never touch them. Always at arm's length. You don't wanna breathe in the pathogens of the anti-people...”
He slurred a little, went to carry on, but took another gulp of beer instead.
“What does that have to do with bedsheets over the benches in the church yard?” I took a gulp myself, this time watching him with a little more interest. Probably just because he looks like he could spew at any moment.
“You're not letting me finish...”
He finishes his beer, gets up, almost bumping into his piano-***-keyboard. He's off to the fridge again. I have a look around while he's out of the room. I can hear him ******* in the kitchen sink.

I've seen the place a million times before but it always has a whole bunch of new **** tacked up on the wall or else bundled in the corner. He's no hoarder, just gets bored and throws out all the stuff he bought the year before.
There's a framed picture of himself on the wall, cradling his Fender as if he's a master of the arts. It's signed, too.
I've seen him play. Probably will tonight. Wouldn't be surprised if he's written a protest song called: bedsheets over the benches in the church yard. The old **** can't even hit an F major with regularity.
He'd decided to put up his vinyl sleeves on the wall like a 17 year old would with an array of **** pop-punk band posters.
Blink and you might think he's the new John Peel or Phil Spector. Stare, and you'll realise he's twice as crazy, yet half as talented and half as interesting to listen to.
His room is like a CV to show to interesting, young indie women. Shame he's hitting forty now,and hasn't been to a club in about 3 months.
Last time we went he just sulked in the corner and got too drunk. He cried in the smoking area about his job before going round and asking attractive girls whether they think he's too old to be out. Most didn't even bother to give an answer. Probably best.

He comes back in with more beer.
“A-anyway...” He says, groaning a little like an old man as he settles back into the chair. “As I was saying...” he sloshes beer on the carpet, rubs it in with the heel of his shoe. He spits on the mark and then rubs again.
“What I was saying was that the church would be a whole lot more useful to the homeless if it was burned down. A condemned building is a whole lot more useful than being looked down on by holier-than-thou, middle-class, white Christians.
“They go home after an hour, bolt the church doors, and then watch TV in their brand new conservatories that they spend several thousands on. Just give the losers a place to shoot up and sleep in safety. That makes sense, right?”
“I guess so.”
I couldn't think of a change of conversation. So I just drank some more and pulled out a cigarette. It's nice to smoke inside for a change.

“It's a ****** ******* awful thing. If people were actually religious, they'd throw open their ******* doors for everyone. It's what Jesus would do, right?”
“Right.”
“He'd have all the **** in his bedsit, piled in like sardines, spreading TB like wildfire.”
“And that's a good thing?”
“Well, it can't be any worse, right? Sleep's important. I learned that the hard way.”

He didn't learn it the hard way. Not really. He's a self-motivated, self-harming insomniac. He spent his teenage years listening to bad music and staying up too late ******* over his French teacher. I should know, I mostly did the same.
He hit the **** pretty hard during college. Never really looked back until recently. ****** him up worse than you'd reckon. He couldn't sleep without the stuff. Man, if you'd have seen the poor guy whenever he couldn't get hold of some for the night. Eesh.

“...you know what I mean though? I'm sick of charity. Those fun-runs you get. A load of women in pink pretending that they care about breast cancer, before posting a million and one pictures up of them in ankle warmers and a kooky hat...”
“**** of the Earth.”
“Yup. Right up there with the women who have 'mummy' as their middle name on Facebook.”
“Yeah.”
“Honestly though, it's the laziest form of charity. Throwing a couple old, mouldy bedsheets out on some bird-**** bench made of wood and ancient farts...”
“It is pretty lazy.” I drank some more.

It was getting late. We swallowed three temazepams each, moved onto the cheap shiraz once we ran out of beer. We leant back in our chairs, barely talking and letting Tame Impala supply the conversation for us.

“You know what?” I ask, pretty much out of nowhere. His eyes have narrowed. He's not sleepy, just ****** on ***** and tranquillizers. He takes a moment.
“Huh?”
“From what you were saying earlier... you know, about the bedsheets over the benches in the church yard. For the homeless.”
“Yeah?”
“Well, why don't you?”
“Why don't I what?”
“Burn it down.”
“The church?”
“Well, you go on about being lazy and ****. Here's your chance. Help the homeless. Break the locks, pour the petrol, take out a few bottles of wine if you find any...”
“Now?”
“I guess so. Homeless folk are dying of pneumonia out there. Not a second can be wasted.”
“I dunno. I didn't mean I had to do it. I was just saying...”
“I guess they were just saying too.” I felt like I was being a ****, so I changed the subject to women I haven't laid.

I stumbled home leaning on my bicycle all the way. Daylight was just about visible off in the distance. I passed two homeless guys on the way back, gave one of them a fiver, the other one my big mac and the last of my cigarettes (well, leaving a couple for myself).
They said thanks, god bless you, etc, etc. I carried on walking.

I woke up the next afternoon with a mouthful of sand and in desperate need of a hangover ****. I hadn't shaved in about two weeks and there were dark circles under my eyes. I thought about going out to the diner for a full breakfast, but strange people were beyond me.
I ordered a pizza full of meat and grease and garlic sauce instead. I text him to see if he wanted to come over and nurse the hangover with a little ****. Watch a film. Get drunk again. He still smokes it on special occasions, and this ******* of a hangover was pretty **** special.
No reply, and I end up rolling up a joint for myself, smoking it by the window and watching the magpies peck around the grass. It's nice out.

The pizza guy comes. He's holding the pizza up like a map, calls out in a bored sort of voice: “Hello sir. I've got a large Palermo Pizza here, with a side of chicken strips and a can of Dandelion and Burdock?”
I say yes and he hands it over.

I tip him with the coins still left in my wallet from the night before, and he sheepishly says he picked up my post for me as well.
I look down at the pizza I'm holding, and there's a few envelopes that look suspiciously like bills, rival takeaway leaflets, and the local paper. I say thanks, give him the best sort of smile I could, and then close the door.
I turn on the TV. I forgot the England match was on. I turn over to something more interesting. There's nothing, so I switch back over. Before I open up the pizza, I take the paper. A small-town existence, nothing ever happens, but I could do with a new job.

The front page is on fire. A church has been burned down in the early morning. A forty-something man has been arrested and then taken to hospital for severe burns to the face. A load of children's art has been lost, along with countless Bibles, prayer cushions, and vaults of cash.
“****.”
I read through the article. The whole place was gutted. Nothing could be salvaged. Nothing could be redeemed. In the corner of the picture, through the red, green, and blue dots, I could just make out some bedsheets over the benches in the church yard. For the homeless.
I apologise profusely for posting up a short story instead of a poem. I wrote this in one go tonight and haven't proofread it. I had no plan, I just wrote until there was -something- there. I just wanted to try something different.

C
The piper coming from far away is you
With a whitewash brush for a sporran
Wobbling round you, a kitchen chair
Upside down on your shoulder, your right arm
Pretending to tuck the bag beneath your elbow,
Your pop-eyes and big cheeks nearly bursting
With laughter, but keeping the drone going on
Interminably, between catches of breath.



The whitewash brush. An old blanched skirted thing
On the back of the byre door, biding its time
Until spring airs spelled lime in a work-bucket
And a potstick to mix it in with water.
Those smells brought tears to the eyes, we inhaled
A kind of greeny burning and thought of brimstone.
But the slop of the actual job
Of brushing walls, the watery grey
Being lashed on in broad swatches, then drying out
Whiter and whiter, all that worked like magic.
Where had we come from, what was this kingdom
We knew we'd been restored to? Our shadows
Moved on the wall and a tar border glittered
The full length of the house, a black divide
Like a freshly opened, pungent, reeking trench.



**** at the gable, the dead will congregate.
But separately. The women after dark,
Hunkering there a moment before bedtime,
The only time the soul was let alone,
The only time that face and body calmed
In the eye of heaven.

Buttermilk and *****,
The pantry, the housed beasts, the listening bedroom.
We were all together there in a foretime,
In a knowledge that might not translate beyond
Those wind-heaved midnights we still cannot be sure
Happened or not. It smelled of hill-fort clay
And cattle dung. When the thorn tree was cut down
You broke your arm. I shared the dread
When a strange bird perched for days on the byre roof.



That scene, with Macbeth helpless and desperate
In his nightmare--when he meets the hags agains
And sees the apparitions in the ***--
I felt at home with that one all right. Hearth,
Steam and ululation, the smoky hair
Curtaining a cheek. 'Don't go near bad boys
In that college that you're bound for. Do you hear me?
Do you hear me speaking to you? Don't forget!'
And then the postick quickening the gruel,
The steam crown swirled, everything intimate
And fear-swathed brightening for a moment,
Then going dull and fatal and away.



Grey matter like gruel flecked with blood
In spatters on the whitewash. A clean spot
Where his head had been, other stains subsumed
In the parched wall he leant his back against
That morning like any other morning,
Part-time reservist, toting his lunch-box.
A car came slow down Castle Street, made the halt,
Crossed the Diamond, slowed again and stopped
Level with him, although it was not his lift.
And then he saw an ordinary face
For what it was and a gun in his own face.
His right leg was hooked back, his sole and heel
Against the wall, his right knee propped up steady,
So he never moved, just pushed with all his might
Against himself, then fell past the tarred strip,
Feeding the gutter with his copious blood.

*

My dear brother, you have good stamina.
You stay on where it happens. Your big tractor
Pulls up at the Diamond, you wave at people,
You shout and laugh about the revs, you keep
old roads open by driving on the new ones.
You called the piper's sporrans whitewash brushes
And then dressed up and marched us through the kitchen,
But you cannot make the dead walk or right wrong.
I see you at the end of your tether sometimes,
In the milking parlour, holding yourself up
Between two cows until your turn goes past,
Then coming to in the smell of dung again
And wondering, is this all? As it was
In the beginning, is now and shall be?
Then rubbing your eyes and seeing our old brush
Up on the byre door, and keeping going.
AJ Robertson Oct 2013
the child recieves his paper
****** backward by the one in front
flip the three pages flippantly
one : intimidating . . two : boring
the third adorned unexpectedly
a longer -than seems can be usually- grown hair with a clump of green root
sprung out and slaughtered, down across the width; stuck above the questions beneath

how could he not have seen?
a pile so viscous and obscene?
does everyone else have one???
are they holding their disgust beneath?

he looked up at the teacher.
A look of vigilance his face bequeathed.
B  ut now it sprung out almost pus like
a faint smile,
        a teachers calm reprieve

he then leaned back on his chair in comfort
drooping his head back
his nostrils flared now toward the child
the hairs brustling from inside, all locked up in a ***** days remnants
all foul
           and long
and dehydrated
    like a swamp now sunned crisp; reeds on a stale bank

drawn in he felt uneasy
unable to cease to stare
incased inside the world that spawned
in the swamp that lay up there
in the cavernous orifices there

then he saw the teachers eyes, his gaze it
stuck on him, the teacher began to grin
further back his head leant
his eyes jaundiced
his teeth tanned
his face pale
his grin outstretched and thin
THERE all the golden codgers lay,
There the silver dew,
And the great water sighed for love,
And the wind sighed too.
Man-picker Niamh leant and sighed
By Oisin on the grass;
There sighed amid his choir of love
Tall pythagoras.
plotinus came and looked about,
The salt-flakes on his breast,
And having stretched and yawned awhile
Lay sighing like the rest.
Straddling each a dolphin's back
And steadied by a fin,
Those Innocents re-live their death,
Their wounds open again.
The ecstatic waters laugh because
Their cries are sweet and strange,
Through their ancestral patterns dance,
And the brute dolphins plunge
Until, in some cliff-sheltered bay
Where wades the choir of love
Proffering its sacred laurel crowns,
They pitch their burdens off.
Grahame Jun 2014
’Twas in the nineteen-twenties, when young people were bright and gay,
A flapper left Southampton, on a cruiser bound for Bombay.
Her fiancé was a subaltern, in India, in the cavalry,
And she had taken passage there, intending, him to marry.

She shared a cabin with a girl, ’cause money was quite tight,
And though they had met as strangers, they were getting on all right.
The flapper had met some nice people, and things were going fine,
Until they reached the equator, and had to ‘cross the line’.

People who before, had never the equator crossed,
Paraded around in fancy dress, and some into the pool were tossed.
The crew were dressed as pirates, and one as King Neptune,
And some of the passengers ‘walked the plank’, it was all done in fun.

During the proceedings, cocktails and champagne were drunk,
And the pirates, lots of passengers, into the pool did dunk.
The flapper’s chosen costume was that of a mermaid,
And with her legs placed in the tail, she hopped in the parade.

Because of her restricting costume, she hadn’t been tossed in the pool,
Now eventime was coming on, the air was turning cool.
She thought she’d look at the wake of the ship, so she hopped to the after-rail,
And stood there drinking a Planter’s Punch, whilst balancing on her tail.

Standing there, under the stars, she gazed down at the sea,
And saw something jump out of the water and wondered what it could be.
Then, leaning over further, to try to make it out,
She lost her balance and fell overboard, no time to even shout.

She crashed to the water on her front, and couldn’t clearly think.
She was winded and rather drunk, because of all the drink.
She struggled hard to keep afloat, her arms were all a-flail,
And for a time she was helped by air trapped in the tail.

Back on board the ship, her cabin-mate was drunk,
And didn’t think that she’d be able to get back to her bunk.
She went to a saloon, and stretched out on a sofa,
Then closed her eyes and went to sleep, the drunken little loafer.

In the morning she awoke and staggered to her berth,
With a frightful headache, no longer full of mirth.
She took some Alka Seltzer, in a glass of water,
Then slept again, not missing the flapper, although she should have ought to.

In the sea the flapper was floundering and thought that drowned she’d be.
The ship showed no sign of turning back, and went on its way steadily.
Her tail was slowly losing air and filling up with sea,
Her last thoughts, as she started to sink, were, “Why is this happening to me?”

Her past life flashed before her eyes, it didn’t take too long.
She’d really led a quiet life, and had done nothing wrong.
“That, I’ll rectify,” she thought, “if ever I get back.”
Then the air bubbled out of her lungs, and everything went black.

“Am I in heaven?” were her first thoughts, assuming she was dead.
When she heard a quiet voice, which unto her, it said
“I thought you were a mermaid, now I think you’re a mortal,
If I’d known, I never would have brought you through my portal.”

The flapper struggled to sit up straight, ’cause her legs were still in the tail.
She opened her eyes, tried to see in the gloom, and then she started to wail.
“Please tell me just where I am, whatever is this place?”
Then she tried hard not to scream, when in front of her eyes loomed a face.

In the dark it seemed to glow with a phosphorescent light,
And this was the reason it had given her such an awful fright.
Then, as she scrutinised it, she thought it did look kind,
So asked, “Why did you think me a mermaid? Are you out of your mind?”

The face moved back and regarded her, and then to her it said,
“Aren’t you at all curious to find you are not dead?
Luckily for you I was on the surface, looking at your ship,
When I saw you standing staring down, and then I saw you slip.”

“I swam back under the water, so I would not be seen,
And heard you splashing in the water, and wondered what it did mean.
Then, looking at you from beneath, as you your arms did flail,
I saw to my surprise, that instead of legs, you’d a tail!”

“I could not work out why a mermaid was on that boat,
Nor why you seemed to not be able to swim or even float.
Then you started sinking and your gills I couldn’t see,
And you obviously weren’t breathing, so you needed help from me.”

“Then I thought of the quickest way that your life I could save.
I towed you to the sea-bed, and brought you to my cave.
There is lots of air in here and I saw to my relief,
When I laid you on my bed, you started then to breathe.”

The flapper was quite shocked at this and couldn’t believe her ears.
She thought she was trapped with a lunatic and her mind was filled with fears.
So sitting up, she undid the belt that held her tail on tight,
Then wiggled a bit and pulled it off so her legs were now in sight.

“There are no such things as mermaids!” the flapper then did shout.
“Why are you keeping me captive? Oh won’t you let me out?”
“You really are then human,” the mermaid, startled, said,
“And I brought you here inside my home! I really feel afraid.”

“I don’t believe in mermaids,” the flapper again did wail.
“So far I’ve only seen your face, I haven’t seen a tail.”
The mermaid said, with trembling voice, “If that is what you wish.”
She then lay back upon the bed, and gave her tail a swish.

“No, no, it’s just your fancy dress, like mine for the parade,”
The flapper said, and like the mermaid, she was sore afraid.
They both sat up and looked at each other,  tears running down their faces,
And each, feeling sorry for the other, each, the other embraces.

As they hugged together, they started to calm down,
And the flapper said to the mermaid, “I think that you have shown
Great compassion in saving me and bringing me safely here.”
And though overcome by emotion, she managed to sound sincere.

The mermaid said, “You’re trembling, may I be so bold
As to ask if you’re still frightened?” The flapper said, “I’m cold.
I’m shivering to warm myself, my clothes are chilly and wet.”
The mermaid told her, “I know what, some dry clothes I will get.”

Sliding down from off the bed, into a pool she slipped,
And swam to the far side of the cave, and there a case she gripped.
Rolling over onto her back, she balanced it on her chest,
Then swam back to the flapper, who hoped it hadn’t squashed her breast.

The flapper helped to lift the heavy case onto the bed.
“I hope you haven’t hurt yourself bringing it here,” she said.
“Oh no,” replied the mermaid, “I’m stronger than I look,”
Then she opened it, and from the inside, several garments took.

The flapper then looked thoughtful and said, with a little frown,
“I hope this case hasn’t come from someone who did drown.”
“Oh no!” said the mermaid, as she that thought abhored,
“I often find stuff from ships that has fallen overboard.”

The flapper quickly then took off all her sodden clothes,
And picked up a lace hankie, and on it blew her nose.
She dried herself upon a towel, and sorting out clothes to wear,
Picked out some silken knickers and a strapless brassiere.

Then the flapper noticed that the mermaid was quite bare.
She obviously wouldn’t wear knickers, so she held out the brassiere.
“What is that?” the mermaid asked, “Do you wear it on your head?”
“Turn around, lift up your arms and I’ll show you,” the flapper said.

The mermaid swivelled round and raised her arms up high,
While the flapper knelt behind her, putting her arms round her to try
To fit her with the brassiere, and though she did her best,
She managed, inadvertently, in each hand to clasp a breast.

The flapper and the mermaid both froze there in that place.
The flapper felt a crimson flush, blush across her face.
The mermaid slowly lowered her arms, each covered a flapper’s hand,
And she murmured, “What are you doing? I just don’t understand.”

The flapper’s arms were locked in place and the mermaid she leant back.
The flapper felt her ***** flattened as the mermaid squashed her rack.
The mermaid muttered, “Don’t get dressed, I’ve a better idea instead.
Why don’t we lie down together? I’ll warm you up in bed.”

The mermaid released the flapper’s hands and slowly turned around.
Then she saw the flapper’s eyes looking down upon the ground.
The flapper spoke. “I know you meant the offer kindly, though
While I’m really flattered, in India, I’ve a beau.”

“I was on my way to meet him at Bombay, to be married.
I’d still be on my way there, if the cruise had not miscarried.
You have been so kind to me and managed to save my life,
Now will you help me on my way so I can be a wife?”

The mermaid looked unhappy, however, she concurred,
Albeit quite reluctantly, and then spoke so she’d be heard,
“I will try to help you, though yet we must delay.
There will be many sharks outside at this time of day.”

“If I take you outside now, to try to get you back,
There’s a real chance that the sharks they will attack.
Why don’t you finish drying yourself and find clothes to get dressed,
Then lie back down upon the bed and try to get some rest?”

The flapper started dressing and put on the brassiere,
And helped the mermaid put one on, who felt awkward not being bare.
When the flapper stood up, and stepped into the knickers,
The mermaid couldn’t help but stare, her eyes made up-and-down flickers.

“Please show me how you use your legs,” the mermaid did implore,
“It’s strange to see you standing up,  not lying on the floor.”
The flapper bent and stretched her knees to show how they did work.
Then turned around and squatted down and got her *** to twerk.

Then as the flapper, legs apart, upon the bed did kneel,
The mermaid, stretching out her arm, between those legs did feel.
And then very slowly, rubbed her hand forth and back,
And murmured, “It must feel very strange, because a tail you lack.”

The flapper, with a quavering voice, said, “It’s quite normal for me.
Now, though, what about you? May I your tail closely see?”
And with that, the flapper stretched out flat upon the bed,
Then on the mermaid’s tail, gently rested her head.

She put her hand upon the tail and stroked it up and down,
And feeling it crissate, gave a little frown.
It felt smooth when caressed downwards and rough the other way,
And then the mermaid arched her back and suddenly did spray.

From somewhere at the tail’s front squirted forth a spout.
That the mermaid did enjoy it, the flapper was not in doubt.
The liquid jet subsided and the mermaid gave a moan,
And a quite delightful odour suffused throughout the room.

The fluid showered the flapper, who wasn’t sure what to do.
Though when she wiped her hair, it foamed up like shampoo.
She rubbed it to a lather, and washed her body too,
And felt totally refreshed, as though she had washed in dew.

She stood, removed her underwear, because she thought she ought to
Rinse off the mermaid’s glorious shower by washing in some water.
She walked to a fissure in the cave where the water ran down in rills,
And as she rinsed her face and neck, she felt a pair of gills.

In shock she stumbled backwards and fell upon the floor,
Where her legs fused into a tail, which wasn’t there before.
She looked at it in horror and then with fear she cried,
When instantly, the mermaid lay down by her side.

The mermaid clasped her in her arms and rolling across the floor,
Pulled the flapper to the edge of the pool and pushed her in, before
Sliding in to the water herself, and pulling the flapper under,
Where, to her surprise, the flapper could breathe, it really was a wonder.

The flapper hung suspended, floating there in shock,
Then gradually realising she was all right, started to take stock.
Thinking that now, perhaps, she could swim just like a fish,
She gathered up her strength, and gave her tail a swish.

Unwittingly, she flapped her tail with all the strength she’d got,
And happening to be facing the cave door, right through it she shot.
Then coming out in daylight, she stared in disbelief
At all the spectacular marine life round about the reef.

There was coral in profusion, as far as the eye could see,
Of many shapes and colours, like a garden beautifully
Laid out on the sea-bed, with fishes swimming round,
Each of them making it their home; the sea-life did really abound.

The mermaid caught up with the flapper and took her by the hand,
Then said to her, “I’m confused, I just don’t understand
How you became a mermaid, then I saw you couldn’t breathe,
So I pushed you underwater, to try to give you ease.”

“I realised that you’d grown gills and couldn’t breathe in air,
So I thought that being in water was best, because it’s where
We mermaids live, so that is the place you had better be.”
“Thank you, you’ve saved my life again,” said the flapper gratefully.

Then, although still puzzled, they swam on, hand-in-hand,
The mermaid helping the flapper, ’til she could understand
How to use her tail well, to control where she did swim,
And to make fine adjustments, by using the tail’s fin.

Eventually the flapper grew tired, so to the cave they both swam back,
The flapper taking the lead, because she’d got the knack
Of how to control her tail, and adjust direction and speed,
Then a thought suddenly struck her, in air, her lungs she would need.

They reached the cave and while in the pool, the flapper to the mermaid said,
“How am I going to breathe back in air? I can’t get it into my head.”
The mermaid replied, “I think you should try, we mermaids can manage ok.
Just try to do what comes naturally, that will be the best way.”

“In for a penny, in for a pound,” bravely declared the flapper.
She hauled herself out, then she choked, the mermaid, on her back did slap her.
The flapper coughed, and gave a gasp, then shouted in relief,
“I think I’m going to be all right, my lungs have started to breathe.”

They both lay there in silence, thinking of what had passed.
Then the flapper turned to the mermaid, and she said, “These last
Few hours I’ve spent with you have been just like a dream.
Now I’m tired, shall we go to bed? I think you know what I mean!”

They pulled themselves into the bed, and together they did huddle.
The mermaid put her arms round the flapper and together they did cuddle.
And this time, as the two of them laid together in rest,
It was now the mermaid who cupped the flapper’s breast.

The mermaid asked, “Remember when you stroked my tail and I gushed?”
The flapper felt embarrassed and again on her face she blushed.
The mermaid said, “It was really nice, wouldn’t you like to try?”
The flapper replied, “I’m afraid it’s too late, and here’s the reason why.”

“That would be an experience I’d really like to try.
However, it is too late now, ’cause as my tail got dry,
I felt it metamorphosise, have a feel, I beg.”
The mermaid reached down with her hand, and felt the flapper’s leg.

Nevertheless, she stroked it, and rubbed it up and down,
And accidentally touched some hair, which caused her then to frown.
“I think you’ve got a problem, you’d best hear it from me.
Stuck between your legs, I think there’s a sea anemone.”

The flapper remembered the last time that the mermaid there had felt.
She’d had on silken *******, so had seemed smooth and svelte.
Now, she’d got her legs back which were absolutely bare,
And of course, instead of feeling silk, the mermaid felt her hair.

“That’s not an anemone, in fact, it is my......frizz.
I am used to it being there, that’s just the way it is.
I try to keep it neatly trimmed, so there is not a lot,
Besides, I think it’s there to protect the entrance of my grot.”

“When you say you’ve got a grot, I assume you mean a cave.
Is it as big as this one, holding all the treasures you have?”
The flapper answered the mermaid, “Oh no, it’s very small,
And held safe within it is my most precious possession of all.”

“I have carefully guarded it so that it won’t get lost.
I expect my husband to have it soon, a few weeks at the most.
And so, my dearest mermaid, until I am a bride,
Nobody will ever know just what I keep inside.”

The mermaid gently smoothed the ‘frizz’, and said, “I understand.
Now, don’t you think it’s time we got you back to land?”
I would like to help you, and I think I know a way
Of quickly getting you safely all the way to Bombay.”

“Thank you,” responded the flapper, “however, if we may,
I’d like to go to another port, one before Bombay.
Then, if at all possible, I can rejoin my cruise ship there,
And may I take some of your clothes, so I’m not on
Kevin J Taylor Sep 2015
Summon Me! From Dismal Mountain
Where fallen prayers drift slowly down
Where ash of fallen prayer lies mounting
From the privy of the Beast!

Take Me!  Shake each gilded Logic
From dreaded Death!  From dung deposits!
From the liars' breath of thieves!
From Serpentes, friend of Eve!

Spill Me!  Spill my ancient grief!
My faith that God once had in beasts!
Spill the essence of my clay
Across the Day!  Across the Day!

O Hear!  Echoic from this ashen fell
Where idols leant and fallen dwell—
My Lords-in-waiting!  Seneschals!
Summon Me!
A few words:  Serpentes (sir-pent-eze), a name in biology for the snakes— used here as the given name of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

Fell, a hill or highland.

Leant is leaned.  Rhymes with lent.

Seneschal, an office in a medieval noble household, in charge of servants and their duties, ceremonies and administration of justice.  Reminds me of a lieutenant in an old crime family.  I think that any Beast worth his salt would have had them.

This poem is about the premise that The Beast has NO power of his own. He is begging to be called forth.
.
Not all poems survive. I've lost a few and let others go. My current collection of poems is available on Kindle and in paperback. It is called "3201 e's" (that is approximately how many e's are in the manuscript which is a very unpoetic title but a reflection on the creation of poetry by common means.)
I.
Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
Without some stir of heart, some malady;
They could not sit at meals but feel how well
It soothed each to be the other by;
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

II.
With every morn their love grew tenderer,
With every eve deeper and tenderer still;
He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
And his continual voice was pleasanter
To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.

III.
He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
Before the door had given her to his eyes;
And from her chamber-window he would catch
Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;
And constant as her vespers would he watch,
Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;
And with sick longing all the night outwear,
To hear her morning-step upon the stair.

IV.
A whole long month of May in this sad plight
Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:
"To morrow will I bow to my delight,
"To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon."--
"O may I never see another night,
"Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune."--
So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,
Honeyless days and days did he let pass;

V.
Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek
Fell sick within the rose's just domain,
Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek
By every lull to cool her infant's pain:
"How ill she is," said he, "I may not speak,
"And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:
"If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,
"And at the least 'twill startle off her cares."

VI.
So said he one fair morning, and all day
His heart beat awfully against his side;
And to his heart he inwardly did pray
For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide
Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away--
Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride,
Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:
Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!

VII.
So once more he had wak'd and anguished
A dreary night of love and misery,
If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed
To every symbol on his forehead high;
She saw it waxing very pale and dead,
And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly,
"Lorenzo!"--here she ceas'd her timid quest,
But in her tone and look he read the rest.

VIII.
"O Isabella, I can half perceive
"That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
"If thou didst ever any thing believe,
"Believe how I love thee, believe how near
"My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
"Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
"Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live
"Another night, and not my passion shrive.

IX.
"Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
"Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
"And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
"In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time."
So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:
Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
Grew, like a ***** flower in June's caress.

X.
Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,
Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart
Only to meet again more close, and share
The inward fragrance of each other's heart.
She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart;
He with light steps went up a western hill,
And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.

XI.
All close they met again, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
All close they met, all eves, before the dusk
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
Ah! better had it been for ever so,
Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.

XII.
Were they unhappy then?--It cannot be--
Too many tears for lovers have been shed,
Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
Too much of pity after they are dead,
Too many doleful stories do we see,
Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse
Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

XIII.
But, for the general award of love,
The little sweet doth **** much bitterness;
Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
And Isabella's was a great distress,
Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less--
Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

XIV.
With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
And for them many a weary hand did swelt
In torched mines and noisy factories,
And many once proud-quiver'd ***** did melt
In blood from stinging whip;--with hollow eyes
Many all day in dazzling river stood,
To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

XV.
For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
And went all naked to the hungry shark;
For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death
The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

XVI.
Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?--
Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?--
Why were they proud? Because red-lin'd accounts
Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?--
Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

XVII.
Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies,
The hawks of ship-mast forests--the untired
And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies--
Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,--
Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

XVIII.
How was it these same ledger-men could spy
Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye
A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
Into their vision covetous and sly!
How could these money-bags see east and west?--
Yet so they did--and every dealer fair
Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

XIX.
O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon,
And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune,
For venturing syllables that ill beseem
The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

**.
Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
There is no other crime, no mad assail
To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
But it is done--succeed the verse or fail--
To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

XXI.
These brethren having found by many signs
What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
And how she lov'd him too, each unconfines
His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
That he, the servant of their trade designs,
Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,
When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees
To some high noble and his olive-trees.

XXII.
And many a jealous conference had they,
And many times they bit their lips alone,
Before they fix'd upon a surest way
To make the youngster for his crime atone;
And at the last, these men of cruel clay
Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
For they resolved in some forest dim
To **** Lorenzo, and there bury him.

XXIII.
So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent
Their footing through the dews; and to him said,
"You seem there in the quiet of content,
"Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
"Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
"Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

XXIV.
"To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
"To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
"Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
"His dewy rosary on the eglantine."
Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;
And went in haste, to get in readiness,
With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.

XXV.
And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,
Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft
If he could hear his lady's matin-song,
Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;
And as he thus over his passion hung,
He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
When, looking up, he saw her features bright
Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.

XXVI.
"Love, Isabel!" said he, "I was in pain
"Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
"Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
"I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
"Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain
"Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
"Good bye! I'll soon be back."--"Good bye!" said she:--
And as he went she chanted merrily.

XXVII.
So the two brothers and their ******'d man
Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream
Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan
Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream
Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
The brothers' faces in the ford did seem,
Lorenzo's flush with love.--They pass'd the water
Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

XXVIII.
There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,
There in that forest did his great love cease;
Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,
It aches in loneliness--is ill at peace
As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:
They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease
Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,
Each richer by his being a murderer.

XXIX.
They told their sister how, with sudden speed,
Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands,
Because of some great urgency and need
In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.
Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow's ****,
And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands;
To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,
And the next day will be a day of sorrow.

***.
She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
Sorely she wept until the night came on,
And then, instead of love, O misery!
She brooded o'er the luxury alone:
His image in the dusk she seem'd to see,
And to the silence made a gentle moan,
Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
And on her couch low murmuring, "Where? O where?"

XXXI.
But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long
Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
She fretted for the golden hour, and hung
Upon the time with feverish unrest--
Not long--for soon into her heart a throng
Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,
And sorrow for her love in travels rude.

XXXII.
In the mid days of autumn, on their eves
The breath of Winter comes from far away,
And the sick west continually bereaves
Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay
Of death among the bushes and the leaves,
To make all bare before he dares to stray
From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel
By gradual decay from beauty fell,

XXXIII.
Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes
She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale,
Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes
Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale
Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes
Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale;
And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud,
To see their sister in her snowy shroud.

XXXIV.
And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,
Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall
For some few gasping moments; like a lance,
Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall
With cruel pierce, and bringing him again
Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.

XXXV.
It was a vision.--In the drowsy gloom,
The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot
Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot
Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
Had made a miry channel for his tears.

XXXVI.
Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,
To speak as when on earth it was awake,
And Isabella on its music hung:
Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,
As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung;
And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song,
Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.

XXXVII.
Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof
From the poor girl by magic of their light,
The while it did unthread the horrid woof
Of the late darken'd time,--the murderous spite
Of pride and avarice,--the dark pine roof
In the forest,--and the sodden turfed dell,
Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.

XXXVIII.
Saying moreover, "Isabel, my sweet!
"Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
"And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
"Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed
"Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat
"Comes from beyond the river to my bed:
"Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
"And it shall comfort me within the tomb.

XXXIX.
"I am a shadow now, alas! alas!
"Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling
"Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,
"While little sounds of life are round me knelling,
"And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
"And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,
"Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,
"And thou art distant in Humanity.

XL.
"I know what was, I feel full well what is,
"And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;
"Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
"That paleness warms my grave, as though I had
"A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss
"To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;
"Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel
"A greater love through all my essence steal."

XLI.
The Spirit mourn'd "Adieu!"--dissolv'd, and left
The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,
Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,
And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,
And in the dawn she started up awake;

XLII.
"Ha! ha!" said she, "I knew not this hard life,
"I thought the worst was simple misery;
"I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
"Portion'd us--happy days, or else to die;
"But there is crime--a brother's ****** knife!
"Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy:
"I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,
"And greet thee morn and even in the skies."

XLIII.
When the full morning came, she had devised
How she might secret to the forest hie;
How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,
And sing to it one latest lullaby;
How her short absence might be unsurmised,
While she the inmost of the dream would try.
Resolv'd, she took with her an aged nurse,
And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

XLIV.
See, as they creep along the river side,
How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,
And, after looking round the champaign wide,
Shows her a knife.--"What feverous hectic flame
"Burns in thee, child?--What good can thee betide,
"That thou should'st smile again?"--The evening came,
And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed;
The flint was there, the berries at his head.

XLV.
Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,
And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
To see skull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,
And filling it once more with human soul?
Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

XLVI.
She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,
Like to a native lily of the dell:
Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
To dig more fervently than misers can.

XLVII.
Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon
Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies,
She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
And put it in her *****, where it dries
And freezes utterly unto the bone
Those dainties made to still an infant's cries:
Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,
But to throw back at times her vei
Mitchell Duran Jun 2012
The night rested in a humid Spring night as the cable cars
And taxi cabs lazily made their way around the
Soft and silent streets of the city. Stray cats and dogs
Picked away at half-eaten lunch meat and
three day old bread as the moon slowly began to rise.
The restaurants that lined the alley ways and
Side streets were filled with the Saturday evening crowd. The
Clinking echoes of wine glasses and dinner plates spilled
Out onto the sidewalk and into the street. The passerby's would
Occasionally turn their heads to look inside, some envious that they
Were not smiling and drinking and eating that night. Across the
Street and throughout the town, lonely men drank from half empty
Beer mugs, wondering where their passion had gone.

On the corner of Barry and 3rd stood a man alone with
A suitcase in his hand. He wore tattered brown dress
Shoes - two years too old - a black neck tie with a half
Button-up T-shirt and a pair of dark brown slacks he had
Bought from Goodwill for $3. His free hand hung open,
Letting the night breeze snake around his fingers. There
Were the stars above him that shone down onto the street
And the sidewalk and a few spotted puddles that had
Built up from an earlier rain. On the corner of Barry and 3rd
There was only one thing to do with one's time, and that
Was to stand around and think of where to go to next.

Up on 17th, there was a bar the man had heard of
From a woman who had tried to pick him up at the bus
Station, some kind of ******* that was really only looking
For a couple of free drinks and a packet of cigarettes. The man
Thought of this place, and weighed back and forth if it would
Be advantageous to wander up there and see if he couldn't
Find someone to shack up with for the night.
He decided it would be.

As he passed the busy restaurants, listening to the insides
Of the building and its occupants churn like silverware
In a blender, he remembered he had placed a half-loaf
Of bread inside of his suitcase.
He stopped on a rough concrete stoop of a Catholic
Church, where above him, stood a large wooden cross.
Around the cross were plaster sculptures of baby angels and
Gargoyles and a snaking vine made of black stone that made
Its way around the cross, tying itself around the center
Where the horizontal met the vertical, and continued
To spin around and around until it reached the top.
At first, the man thought it was some
Kind of snake signifying Adam and Eve, which was all
He really knew about religion, the basic kid stories, but
When looking closer, realized that it was only an innocent
Plant seeking a spot of sun.

The man placed his suitcase on the 3rd step of 8, where he
Then sat on the 4th. He leaned his weathered, bent back against
The hard stone concrete and listened to the faint cracks
Of his spine inside his body. He realized that he hadn't sat d
Down and relaxed since he had gotten off the train. He threw
His head back in a exaggerated and child-like yawn, and felt the warm tears
Of bashful exhaustion fill the sockets of his heavy eyes. The night was
Warm and he unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt
To let the air blow over his sweat drenched chest.

"There are certain times to be alone in life," He mused
To himself, "And I do believe that I have
Found one of them."

In a room above him the window was wide open
And the curtains danced outside with the wind. A head
Poked out from the window sill and peered down to
Look at the man musing, but did not say anything. The man
knew nothing of the stranger's eyes above him and felt
No other presence around him, other than the passing taxi
Cabs and street walker's and - if you counted the one's inside
The church - the saints and the angel's and God that lived
In holy silence enshrined behind him.

"There are things in life that are never meant to be
Solved," he philosophized, "And maybe I am
One of those things. When I think of my life, my entire
Life here on Earth, I don't think I ever found
A straight line to follow that I was ever comfortable
With...not one straight line I could follow that would
Bring me true happiness or a sense of accomplishment.
Now, am I bad in feeling this way? Am I no good
For never feeling that the good ain't ever good enough?
I do my laundry like everybody else and I walk the
Street just the same, but, there is something else that
Smells and feels and can taste the eternity in all things
That makes me restless so I can't sleep sometimes, forces
Me to stare into black infinity with only a mind I feel
That I will never truly meet. There has got to be a word
For whatever feeling this is, but I can't seem to think of it now."

The head above that had poked out before ******
A dark object out the window. It wavered for a moment
In the still warm air of the night, then, whooshing and
Splashing down, a full bucket of water cascaded down
on the man's head and suitcase. The man sat frozen, unsure
Whether it was from the Heaven's itself and paused before
He began to swear and curse at the tenant above him.

"You rat **** eating vanilla ice cream eating convict!" he
Screamed up towards the apartment complex, "I'm going
To come back with a gallon of gasoline, 10,000 tooth-picks, and
Find out your favorite magazine subscription and bring 1,000
Those by, and burn this place down - gifts and all!"

His voice
Echoed in the street
And down the darkened alley-way,
Where the bums of the city
Slumbered, not hearing a sound
Of the rant the man in the now wet
Two year old dress shoes rambled
On with; for bums sleep with
Absolute peace with their lack of
Care or fear of time.

"At last," he muttered underneath his dripping hair,
"I am released unto the Earth for what I truly am: A hung
Sheet - fresh out of the washer - meant only to be
Basking in the moonlight so to be dried by
Morning for the house-guests in the evening."

The man snapped his fingers,
Clicked his tongue, and looked up,
Once more trying to spot the culprit, until
Another bucket of water came crashing
Down upon him.

"QUIET DOWN THERE,"
The voice from above hollered,
"THERE AIN'T A SINGLE WORD ANYONE
IN THIS BUILDING WANTS TO HEAR
RIGHT NOW! CHILDREN ARE SLEEPING AND
THE OLD ONE'S ARE WATCHING THIER PROGRAMS!"

The man ran his hands through his dripping wet hair
And flicked the droplets of water out onto the street. His
Suitcase, which sat to the right of him, was soaked as well and
The man worried about the single baguette he had stored
In there in case he had gotten hungry. He knew it was ruined
Now, but was happy that there was only an extra pair
Of 50 cent socks and an undershirt he had found underneath
A bridge on the way into the city. He cocked his head up to the open window.

"You speak for everyone here in this building?" He
Asked the black and blotchy figure above him.

"I speak for everyone that doesn't have the nerve or
The cajones or the energy to holler down at you at
This Un-Godly hour, if that's what your asking."

"They vote you into that position?" He asked, prodding them.

"No vote. I'm a volunteer," they defended.

"Ha. Always going to be some kind of
Volunteer when there's power involved."

"Isn't power, it's responsibility."

"Responsibility," the man repeated, chewing the
Word in his mouth, seeing it spelled out in his mind.
"Responsibility is quite a subjective thing: some people
Take a liking to it and never want to stop being responsible and
In charge, and some just don't want none of it and
Would rather lay back in the sun and act
Like their in charge, while whoever believes
Their power works under'em and for'em; which one are you?"

"Neither. I'm just here trying to ward off some
Rambling *** with what looks like nothing but a
Suitcase and some old clothes and shoes."

"Well," he said, "You must have some pretty good
Eye-sight in this setting dark, because that's
All I got at the moment."

"Where you hail from?" the voice asked.

"Originally I hail from here, but where I was
Before I hailed from as well. To tell you the truth, I don't
Truly know - that's a good question."

The man tilted his chin up slightly and
Rolled over his response. The question had
Dropped an icy fire into the pit of his stomach and filled it
With hundreds of gnawing, fluttering butterflies; he
Hadn't thought about home in a long time and
Had forgotten why he had even chose to show-up in the first place.

"I'm here for reasons I can't seem to remember at the moment,"
The man admitted to the voice above and to himself.

"Can't remember?" the voice laughed, "How
You gonna' forget why you came home?"

"Don't know," he said, shaking his head," Just
Can't seem to recollect it."

"Scary thing."

"Yes, indeed."

They both paused as a taxi cab passed slowly by. It stopped
And honked its horn trying to signal the man to see
If he needed a ride. The man waved his hand to send the
Cabby off and looked down at his wet clothes and suitcase. The
Chill of the night had gotten its way into his skin and
He noticed that his teeth were chattering and his feet were
Beginning to shake. He worried about getting sick because he
Wouldn't be able to buy any medicine if he did. He looked up
To see the figure still looking down at him in silence. Suddenly,
An object fell, back and forth in the air like a feather,
Down towards the man and onto the stoop where he stood.
It was a blanket and wrapped inside was a tattered pillow.

"Bring it back if you want," the voice called out to him, "Don't
Even care if you sleep on the stoop, but, it's a little wet, as you know."

"There a park around here?"

"Down two blocks and a left. You'll see it."

"Thanks for your kindness," he said looking up at the window.

"Thanks for your silence," the voice said stubbornly.

The man brushed off the remaining water on his clothes
And suitcase and tried to squeeze the water out his hair.
He picked up his suitcase and wrapped the blanket around
His body and fitted the pillow underneath his arm. He walked
Two blocks up from where the figure had told him and took a
Left, illuminated by the stark orange and white street lights. He looked
Around after he took the left and spotted a small children's park
With a few benches spotted along the sidewalk that snaked through it.
He picked a bench near a water fountain, unbuckled his belt and took
Off his wet pants and laid down, wrapping the thick wool blanket
Around his body. He placed his suitcase underneath the bench and
Positioned the pillow so it fitted gently under his head. After he
Closed his eyes and rested for five minutes, he reached down to
Touch his suitcase. He felt the cool, damp leather of it, and
Quickly wrapped himself back up into the blanket,
Eagerly awaiting for dawn to rise and bring warmth back to his body.

At dawn, the sun painted the man's body with dark yellow streaks
of sunlight, heating his body up so much that when he woke, his
Clothes were close to dry again. The small patch of grass and
Weeds underneath him rustled with the wind and the sounds
Of the street a few blocks away drifted into his ear. He stirred
Inside of his blanket but did not rise. The pillow had fallen
To the ground throughout the night, but the man was too tired
To reach for it and kept his head on the hard wooden surface of the bench.
While lying there, half awake, the man thought of the figure that
Had been speaking to him from their window the night before. He
Knew he must return the blanket and pillow, but he was unsure
Whether he should bring something else. He had no money -
No money to spare at least - so he chose to bring only the
The things that were leant to him back, hoping that would suffice.

He shifted his position on the bench and saw through a crack of
The bench, that there were children already playing on the playground
Behind him, their parents leaning over their porches watching them; they
Didn't even seem to notice or care about the man sleeping on the bench.
The man felt embarrassed about this and rolled over to avoid the
Gaze of the parents and any of the children that may have spotted him. He
Laid on his back, his head atop the worn but comfortable pillow, and
Gazed up into the blue sky that was clear save a few passing milky
White clouds, that hovered above him like colossal globs of marshmallows.
He hoped in his mind that he remembered where the house the was that
Had been kind enough to give him the blanket and pillow and he wished
That he had paid more attention to the street signs and physical objects
Surrounding the building. All the man could recall were the bright neon
Orange light posts, a long line of thinly pruned circular bushes, a few
Mailboxes that stood as if attention on the sidewalk of the street, and
Numerous houses that all looked the same when he passed them in the night.
He knew he needed to find the house but was too comfortable to rise and
Too scared of the failure of ever finding the house and the thought
Of carrying around the blanket and pillow made his face flush a deep red.

The man rose cooly, as if rising from a nap spent on a couch in his
Summer cottage that rested on the bank of some far off river somewhere.
He looked over to the children and the parents up on their porches, but
Still, none of them paid him any mind. This relieved him. He was allowed
To be a shadow and embraced the idea of being anonymous rather
Than feeling the helplessness one feels when no one sees you. He folded
The blanket neatly like his mother had taught him to do ever since
He was a little boy, and instinctively fluffed the ***** pillow, even though
It was far beyond repair already. The sun was just peaking over the tops of
The ramshackle apartment buildings and he noticed that he had been
Sleeping in what looked like a very poor part of town; in the night, it
Looked like every other park corner where the elderly would to
Think about their past and the children would play with their present.

"Night and day are two different worlds," the man muttered
To himself, "Some people belong in one and some
The other; I wonder...which one am I?"

He looked up towards the sun and squinted, feeling a
Small droplet of sweat make its way down his right cheek. He
Wiped it away with his fingertip and brought it to his mouth -
He was terribly thirsty and his stomach rumbled within him. He
Had noticed the night before on the way to the park, a sign
For a bakery, but was not sure whether it was open or not because
The night was too dark to reveal any signs of it. The man had 10 dollars to
His name and knew he could buy two loaves of bread for at least 50 cents
If he haggled with whoever was running the place. They would be sure
To see his condition and help him if he showed them a little of the money he had.
There was also a childish charm to the man that he would bring out whenever
He truly was in need - he never liked abusing this gift, if one could call it that -
But in times of desperation and starvation and dehydration, he was
Forced to use it and mustered as much courage up to do so.

He walked through the path that had brought him to the park and
Made a right down the street towards the bakery and possibly the
House where he had been given the blanket and pillow. There was
No one on the street save a few alley cats and dogs and all the window
Blinds were down to block out the intense shining sun rising in the sky. There
Was a light breeze passing through the trees that cooled the man off. He
Had begun to sweat from holding the pillow and blanket so close
To his body, and wished he could have the nerve just to throw it in a
Garbage can and make his way to the neighborhood where he had been told
About the bar, but his conscious weighed him down, so he carried on.

He walked a block down the street and found the bakery on the other side
Of the street. He crossed and saw there was an old woman inside.
He checked his pockets for any spare change and opened his wallet
To make sure the 10 dollars was still there. He needed water and something
To put in his belly and he whispered a prayer before he went inside of the bakery.
When he pushed the door to enter though, it wouldn't budge - it was locked. The
Woman behind the counter turned her head and looked at the man, who
shook her head and waved him off. The man knocked gently on the glass
Door, but the old woman just kept waving and shooing him off like an animal. The
Man checked the clock inside and saw that
A Mareship Sep 2014
Daniel, Peter, George and I sat in various stages of drunkenness.  Dee was sober and on the water. It was our annual dinner, the great catch-up, and most of us were drinking champagne. A great bouquet of peach roses sat in the middle of the table dropping petals by the hour.
“She’s got ginger hair.” Peter laughed.
“It’s more auburn.” George defended, pouring himself another drink.
“No.” Said Peter. “She’s ******* ginger.”
Daniel leant back in his chair with his arms behind his head, wearing his face of perpetual amusement.
“Dan. Come on, now. What colour is Melanie’s hair?”
“Oh…I don’t know.” Dan smiled. “A sort of strawberry blonde.”
Peter punched George on the shoulder."See! She’s ******* ginger!”
Boys will always jostle to be top dog. Daniel was the alpha and Peter resented it, but Daniel was everything that Peter would never be: good-natured, strong, calm, in control. Peter was loud and insulting, a bit of a bully but sort of sad with it, prone to fits of melancholy and drunkenness. We all had our role to play. George was fey and funny and got offended easily. I was the madman who did the things they didn’t dare.  The dynamic worked, most of the time.
Dee was quiet and an ‘outsider’, so he didn’t count. He sat with his glass of tonic water which was packed with slowly cracking ice, and he stuck to his usual routine : no food, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no smiling, no chit chat. Any time I laughed or told a joke, his silence would shame me. He reminded me of how desperate I was to fit in, to be one of the boys. He always shamed me just by sitting there, by not joining in, by being so ******* above it all, by being so himself.
“So, what exactly are you doing these days, Art?” Peter asked.
“Teaching. You know that.”
“Yeah but…why? Do they even allow mental patients around kids?”
Daniel leaned forwards in his chair and glanced at me, checking for discomfort.
“God.” I sighed. “******* Peter.”
“And what do you do?” Peter asked, looking at Dee. Dee took a long while to answer, focusing his eyes and adjusting his posture.
“PhD. Physics.”
“Sounds boring.”
“He’s mathematically gifted.” I said proudly.
Peter smiled with one side of his mouth.
“If someone gave me the gift of maths I’d return it and buy a calculator.”
Everyone laughed, including me. Dee started to fold his napkin, and then he unfolded it. Then he folded it again.
“Do you love maths, then?” George asked.
Dee pushed the napkin into his lap and shrugged.
“There’s something wrong with you if you love maths.” George said. “Maths is *******.”
“Do you want another tonic?” I asked Dee, putting my hand on his knee. He pushed it off with force.
“No. In fact - I think I want to go home.”
“Don’t go home!” Daniel said. “Please Dee, stay a while.”
“No, I really think I ought to go home now.”
“Hey.” I grabbed his knee again. “Come on.”
“No.” he stood up, the candlelight winking wildly in the silk wrinkles of his shirt. “I really want to leave.”
“The evening’s just getting started.” Peter said.
“The evening is not the problem.” Dee said quietly. “The problem is you.” He closed his eyes. “The problem is you.”
I felt my skin shrink. Dee stood up to his full height and exhaled.
“In fact, the problem is all of you. You’re all awful human beings. All of you. Awful, awful, awful.” His eyes sparkled as he warmed to his theme. “And you’re all so ******* boring!
Peter and George were speechless. Daniel leant back and laughed beneath praying hands.
“Yes, you’re bores! You’re such ******* bores! Even the waiter is bored! Even the flowers are bored!”
“Dee, love.” I stood up and grabbed his shoulder. I was quite drunk.
“No Arthur, I’m going home, I’m tired. I’ll get a cab, you stay here with your awful, awful, awful, awful bores.”
He stomped off and Daniel blinked at me, his eyes wrinkled and drunk.
“Go on Art, go home. It’s ok.”
“God, Arthur.” Peter said. “What a lunatic. There’s something seriously wrong with him.”
“Oh *******, Pete.” I snapped, for the second time that night.
“Take this.” Dan said, thrusting his bottle of champagne at me. “I don’t want it. Go on, run and catch him. Go and get drunk with him.”
“No use. He doesn’t drink, remember?” I said, putting on my coat.
“Drink some water with him then. Tell him…” Dan grabbed my head and whispered into my ear, “…tell him that he’s right, that we are ******* bores.” He burst out laughing and sank down into his seat, watching me do up my buttons. “Oh my God!” he laughed, grabbing my hand like he was about to kiss it. “We’re so boring! We’re so ******* boring! Look at us! Even I’m bored!”
Daniel winked at me, still laughing. Daniel was one of Dee’s greatest defenders, and he admired Dee because Dee was honest, because he could not fail to be honest, and because Daniel loved the people that I loved, and I loved Dee most of all.
I grabbed the roses from their vase, just in case I needed them. They were wet, and dying, and they had no smell.
I caught up with Dee outside Angel In The Fields. He complained that he had a headache and told me he wanted to go home. He told me that he couldn’t have stayed one second longer.
He took the flowers from me, and buried his face in them until I hailed a cab.
Flowers were a running theme with us. Flowers in buttonholes, wisteria in gardens. Roses in his face. Buttercups in the grass. So terrible, when I think about it now. Perhaps someone was trying to tell me:
Arthur -  this story will start and end with flowers.

Dee had a habit of ruining social occasions. Perhaps the stress got to him, the terror of communicating, the fear of conversation. He became easily overtired and quickly over stimulated, if a conversation was getting too personal or staying at chit-chat level, he would begin to stress and flounder. If someone annoyed him he could not pretend to like them – he had to let them know that they were ****** or boring or dumb. He didn’t fully comprehend how offensive he could be. He didn’t understand that in order to maintain peace, you must suppress yourself a little bit, tailor yourself to fit the rest. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in suppressing himself, it’s that he simply couldn’t do it.
Most of all, he hated people taking up my attention, whether they were talking to me, amusing me, or even hurting me – he made it very obvious that he did not like to share.
Once, he emptied an entire bottle of red wine into a young woman’s handbag because she had been talking to me all night. He placed broken bottles in front of his mother’s car tires. He sent anonymous emails to my father, threatening disembowelment.  He beheaded ivory chess pieces, snipped the heads off anniversary roses, kicked people's shins under tables.
And he had the worst temper I had ever known.
When people didn’t understand where he was coming from, when he felt isolated and flustered by his own emotional poverty, he would begin to fragment. He would rock back and forth and moan. His voice would change, his face would change, and his anger would be frightening in its desperation, he would tear at his own clothes and hurl himself into walls. A few times I had to physically restrain him, pulling his sweater or shirt over his head to trap his arms, sitting on him, trying to calm him down.
But I could always deal with it, the crazy stuff – it didn’t bother me at all. The rage, the disconnect, the alienation. I knew what it was like to lose control. I knew what it was like to feel different. I used to say to him, “I was with Dee today and I seen hell in his face, Guv’nor. It was all red and blotchy looking.” And then, sometimes, he’d smile.
It was the eating thing that devastated me. It was the eating thing that made me feel useless. That was the one thing that I didn’t understand.

We took a cab from Angel In The Fields and went back to no.23. He went straight upstairs to get undressed, and took a pair of new cashmere socks out of their little beribboned box.
“It’s too warm for cashmere.” I said. He didn’t listen, and put them on anyway.
Dee had never had much of a *** drive, so I knew I was pushing my luck by kissing him – we had made love the night before. He kept his mouth closed and pushed me away.
“No, I don’t want to."
He picked the fluff from his black velvet computer chair.
“I’m not cross.” I said.
“Cross?”
“About…tonight. With the boys.”
“Oh. Ok.”
I went to kiss him again. God, I loved it when he bent his head back and his tongue met mine, his arms relaxing at the elbows, his limpet legs clamping around my own. But his mouth pursed up at me. No entry tonight, sorry.
“Goodnight, then.” I said. “I’m going to bed.”
Something cruel took over me as I opened the door to leave.
“Y’know, Dee – sometimes I think you really hate me.”
He looked at the wall behind me, scrunching his face up, wound up and stuck.
“Forget it.” I said. “Just ******* forget it.”
As I closed the door I heard an animal noise, a miserable animal noise.

Dee was the only thing that had ever made any sense to me. I had no real connection to my parents, I loved my mother but she was silent and neurotic, full of nervous energy that set me on edge. I never felt like I could fully confide in her. I hated my father because he had never loved me, and he had told me so. The only people I loved, my grandparents and my sister, were far away and mostly busy, unavailable, and I caught up with them through letters and telephone calls and occasional rushed visits - holidays, weekends away from school, time away from parents and *******.
I once walked to my grandparent’s house after running away from school, and I fought through a cage of conifers just to ring their bell, turning up at their door wild-eyed and full of pine needles.
I always fought to be with the people that I loved. I fought and fought and fought.
I loved Dee because he was mine and he was never too busy for me. He was as quiet as my mother, as vengeful as my father, but he was mine and I loved him, and he loved me back.
Perhaps that sounds very naïve. But it wasn’t naïve. My love was grown up, full of sacrifice and sleepless nights and heavy talks that left me exhausted. I searched for him when he wasn’t there, I talked to his mother about his health, I took his blood pressure, I poured his fortisip, I calmed him down, I made him laugh and I loved him, ******* hell I loved him, and I watched him like a God and reached out for him in the morning because he reminded me that I was alive, because he made my realness real, because he was my cold fire and he burned by the side of me, coldly, to balance out the crazed orange bonfire of me.

He followed me to bed soon afterwards, brushing his teeth and taking off his clothes, sitting down next to me.
“I hung up my blue.” He said. “Could you fetch it for me?”
His ‘blue’ was an oversized shirt that he slept in sometimes. He put it over his head and it fell around him.
“You know.” He said, “Sometimes I think that you hate me.”
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
He got in next to me.
“I don’t hate you, not now, not ever.”
“I’m not one of your friends, though. If you had to choose a friend, you wouldn’t choose me.”
I didn’t reply, because I didn’t understand what he meant.
“Daniel is your best friend, isn’t he? But you’re my best friend. What happens when I have to talk about something, something that I can’t talk to you about? I don’t have any friends because I don't like anyone else. So who am I supposed to talk to?”
“Me! You can talk to me! I tell you everything.”
“Well, what if I wanted to do something, but I knew that you would try to stop me from doing it?”
“I wouldn’t stop you from doing anything you wanted to do. Not ever.”
“Forget it. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Please Dee, you can’t just start a conversation and then abandon it.”
“I don’t want to talk about it anymore, I’m tired and I want to go to sleep.”
“What is it? Come on, please. What is it?”
He turned away and curled up.  I stayed with my head against the headboard, looking down at him.
‘I love you.” He said, without moving. “I thought I should tell you. I thought you should know.”
“I love you, too.”
And then he went to sleep, leaving me to the house sounds, the clanging inside the walls, the discordant duet of two sets of breathing and the occasional cough.

When I woke up, he was in the shower. His socks were bunched up at the edge of the bed, shrugged off in the night.
Like I said. It was too ******* hot for cashmere.
Michael John Jul 2018
i

i think why not to let
but proved the query set
a double somersault-twist
or kiss your sweet lips..

can  end in cold death-
still the birds in the trees
go cheep or not at all..
i have reason to not question..

ii

i have memories return from the crib
it is all just part of the aging process
we beetle by saying that can´t be right
the lights´ get bright and bright..!

birds talk to us but i don´t hear voices
we become preoccupied with prices..
i recall four blackjacks  a penny
dying has a long curious way..

i am pretty sure i am someone else
absolute and completely and yet
these early feelings as blithe pictures
remain constant..



iii


more work less ******* about
but creation is just living
some absolute and indistinct
(it is tough being a poet..)..

iv

lily says,for it is her,
you don´t play no more,
only i say in mind
the years don´t lie
content´ s fragile store..
repetition dulls the brightest
core..eventually a silent purr ask´ s why
not why not..

v

why write poetry says lily
because it is a futile act
of achieving something perfectly..
we like that..


or like stubbing one´ s little toe
a rabbit from a dream hat
in a vain effort to retain what
remains of my memory..

lily why not or why bother..
lily red diamond from her
eyes sparking like a star is
just a ******* star baby..

she half nelson bottle wine
why do anything..a sign
a metaphor an hieroglyph
love and hate lily..

or the little bird in the agaves
i would like to shoot that one
hate and love lily
porquoi-pas..

vi

i read o twenty years before actually commiting to paper
not much but i knew the stuff i loved and kept there
i know it was charles bukowski i loved his funky gear
thank you norwegion liz for lending me his books dear..

ham on rye and factotum you say don´t lose them mf
i swore i would not lose them i would not lose them kf
kind friend..but i lost them i lost them..df..
dumb ******..


i leant them to someone that swore the same
they suffered an horrendous head..crang..
on and the books lost the books got lost..
there was scant satisfaction in plaster form..

maybe they went to a happy home
so not my fault that his drunk poems
god is he fun liz i hear your laugh then
such a wild sound ..generous so!

you said i should write and thank you
only human to encourage me true
and always a good drinking companion
you bought decent wine..

i adored cognac o..that was my poison
you always attracted van gelis errant tounge
unpleasant but one had to watch him..
that was his fun..

and then backgammon
goes a bit faint then..
i would like to say i won
you told me roland was cheating..

i think it was fun to play him anyway
esspicially on cement truck day..
not that he ever bought me a drink
not that i liked cement..

i lived with roland actually
this stopped any conversation
i met him by accident in eilat
that place was a laugh..

i think i enjoyed the second time
first loads of day jobs though i
played in the streets..and living with
the russians..

that a blast lily..my immediate neighbor
we never spoke..and the police pulled his hair
and yet not a squeak..a match box of grass cheap
i went to silently get a light..

he did say never run boy..
i thought alright for you
alright,
who was playing late night
in the soft quiet night..

so i was nosy
within the deepest hush
a glass and bottle jungle
impossible this silence

and i could hear him swallow
once the army ran through
i was tucked up in bead reading
by hopeless candle light..

i met roland in the peace cafe
a misnomer if ever there was
he picked me up and tossed me
around..

hey mike we got ****** and under
the landing planes roaring down
aint had hash like that in so many
years..

there was the red lion and at seven
free food and a drink and a movie
i read miguel cervantes..they
play the eye of the tiger later..

then the hard rock cafe with killer
egg and chips
i worked with an architect and made
a few shekals.

vii

i got out of there man i went south
dhab a quiet hut and goats..
that is the life right there..
o the corral beauties..

the stars as glimpsed through the palm..
pretty carpet and soften-songs of balm
brain blown and fly blown
and then back to town..

which came as a shock then
i had a drink and a very nice mention
for the cafe at the bus station..
i salut the the patience of the librarians..
John R Jun 2013
I leant over, and read her notebook.

Treasure pleasure:
seize the azure instant!!!


She never forgave me for laughing.
All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
Are all but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.

Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay
Beside the ruined tower.

The moonshine stealing o’er the scene
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve!

She leant against the armed man,
The statue of the armed knight;
She stood and listened to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.

Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best, whene’er I sing
The songs that make her grieve.

I played a soft and doleful air,
I sang an old and moving story—
An old rude song, that suited well
That ruin wild and hoary.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.

I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he wooed
The Lady of the Land.

I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another’s love
Interpreted my own.

She listened with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
And she forgave me, that I gazed
Too fondly on her face!

But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he crossed the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night;

That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade,—

There came and looked him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
This miserable Knight!

And that, unknowing what he did,
He leaped amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The Lady of the Land;

And how she wept, and clasped his knees;
And how she tended him in vain;
And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain;—

And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest-leaves
A dying man he lay;—

His dying words—but when I reached
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
Disturbed her soul with pity!

All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrilled my guileless Genevieve;
The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherished long!

She wept with pity and delight,
She blushed with love, and ****** shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name.

Her ***** heaved—she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stepped—
Then suddenly, with timorous eye,
She fled to me and wept.

She half enclosed me with her arms,
She pressed me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, looked up,
And gazed upon my face.

’Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly ’twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
The swelling of her heart.

I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with ****** pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.
A MAN that had six mortal wounds, a man
Violent and famous, strode among the dead;
Eyes stared out of the branches and were gone.

Then certain Shrouds that muttered head to head
Came and were gone.  He leant upon a tree
As though to meditate on wounds and blood.

A Shroud that seemed to have authority
Among those bird-like things came, and let fall
A bundle of linen.  Shrouds by two and thrce

Came creeping up because the man was still.
And thereupon that linen-carrier said:
"Your life can grow much sweeter if you will

"Obey our ancient rule and make a shroud;
Mainly because of what we only know
The rattle of those arms makes us afraid.

"We thread the needles' eyes, and all we do
All must together do.' That done, the man
Took up the nearest and began to sew.

"Now must we sing and sing the best we can,
But first you must be told our character:
Convicted cowards all, by kindred slain

"Or driven from home and left to dic in fear.'
They sang, but had nor human tunes nor words,
Though all was done in common as before;

They had changed their thtoats and had the throats of
birds.
I leant upon a coppice gate
     When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
     Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
     Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
     The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
     The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
     Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
     Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
     The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
     Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
     In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
     Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
     Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
     Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
     His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
     And I was unaware.
Sally A Bayan Nov 2018
......was a freezing morning.
no rooster woke me....i opened
my eyes at first light of dawn,
sipped hot coffee....my thoughts,
recalling....traveling, with the swirling steam...

turkey wasn't done yet,
but, hours before, table was already set...
while awaiting guests,
I leant on the counter...my head, to rest,
i looked outside the small window
and was greeted by a full moon, aglow...

there was so much food on the table...weariness
was healed by laughter...conversations touched
on weather, politics, food...they refused to end,
glasses sparkled with bubbly wine....sliced meat
was arranged on a big tray...baked sweet potato
with caramel smelled, tasted good...broccoli rave
was green and spicy...i didn't know potato salad
could taste good without meat!....coffee and pies
came next.....the dogs, communicated with their
eyes and paws...socializing, too, like their masters,
i saw what was left, after slicing the plump roasted
fowl...a skeleton, still with thick strands of meat, and
the  palatable stuffing made with onions and prunes.

dishes were washed, kitchen was back in order,
after showering....everyone rushed to their beds,
yet, i had to peep out the window, one last time...
the full moon, still was upon us...confirming its
presence....a long time witness to the moments
we celebrate........encouraging our moods,
our thoughts.....our hearts.......even when
it's not a thanksgiving night..


Sally

Copyright Rosalia Rosario A. Bayan
November 23, 2018
To Jenny came a gentle youth
   From inland leazes lone;
His love was fresh as apple-blooth
   By Parrett, Yeo, or Tone.
And duly he entreated her
To be his tender minister,
   And call him aye her own.

Fair Jenny’s life had hardly been
   A life of modesty;
At Casterbridge experience keen
   Of many loves had she
From scarcely sixteen years above:
Among them sundry troopers of
   The King’s-Own Cavalry.

But each with charger, sword, and gun,
   Had bluffed the Biscay wave;
And Jenny prized her gentle one
   For all the love he gave.
She vowed to be, if they were wed,
His honest wife in heart and head
   From bride-ale hour to grave.

Wedded they were. Her husband’s trust
   In Jenny knew no bound,
And Jenny kept her pure and just,
   Till even malice found
No sin or sign of ill to be
In one who walked so decently
   The duteous helpmate’s round.

Two sons were born, and bloomed to men,
   And roamed, and were as not:
Alone was Jenny left again
   As ere her mind had sought
A solace in domestic joys,
And ere the vanished pair of boys
   Were sent to sun her cot.

She numbered near on sixty years,
   And passed as elderly,
When, in the street, with flush of fears,
   On day discovered she,
From shine of swords and thump of drum,
Her early loves from war had come,
   The King’s Own Cavalry.

She turned aside, and bowed her head
   Anigh Saint Peter’s door;
“Alas for chastened thoughts!” she said;
   “I’m faded now, and ****,
And yet those notes—they thrill me through,
And those gay forms move me anew
   As in the years of yore!”…

—’Twas Christmas, and the Phoenix Inn
   Was lit with tapers tall,
For thirty of the trooper men
   Had vowed to give a ball
As “Theirs” had done (fame handed down)
When lying in the self-same town
   Ere Buonaparté’s fall.

That night the throbbing “Soldier’s Joy,”
   The measured tread and sway
Of “Fancy-Lad” and “Maiden Coy,”
   Reached Jenny as she lay
Beside her spouse; till springtide blood
Seemed scouring through her like a flood
   That whisked the years away.

She rose, and rayed, and decked her head
   To hide her ringlets thin;
Upon her cap two bows of red
   She fixed with hasty pin;
Unheard descending to the street,
She trod the flags with tune-led feet,
   And stood before the Inn.

Save for the dancers’, not a sound
   Disturbed the icy air;
No watchman on his midnight round
   Or traveller was there;
But over All-Saints’, high and bright,
Pulsed to the music Sirius white,
   The Wain by Bullstake Square.

She knocked, but found her further stride
   Checked by a sergeant tall:
“Gay Granny, whence come you?” he cried;
   “This is a private ball.”
—”No one has more right here than me!
Ere you were born, man,” answered she,
   “I knew the regiment all!”

“Take not the lady’s visit ill!”
   Upspoke the steward free;
“We lack sufficient partners still,
   So, prithee let her be!”
They seized and whirled her ’mid the maze,
And Jenny felt as in the days
   Of her immodesty.

Hour chased each hour, and night advanced;
   She sped as shod with wings;
Each time and every time she danced—
   Reels, jigs, poussettes, and flings:
They cheered her as she soared and swooped
(She’d learnt ere art in dancing drooped
   From hops to slothful swings).

The favorite Quick-step “Speed the Plough”—
   (Cross hands, cast off, and wheel)—
“The Triumph,” “Sylph,” “The Row-dow dow,”
   Famed “Major Malley’s Reel,”
“The Duke of York’s,” “The Fairy Dance,”
“The Bridge of Lodi” (brought from France),
   She beat out, toe and heel.

The “Fall of Paris” clanged its close,
   And Peter’s chime told four,
When Jenny, *****-beating, rose
   To seek her silent door.
They tiptoed in escorting her,
Lest stroke of heel or ***** of spur
   Should break her goodman’s snore.

The fire that late had burnt fell slack
   When lone at last stood she;
Her nine-and-fifty years came back;
   She sank upon her knee
Beside the durn, and like a dart
A something arrowed through her heart
   In shoots of agony.

Their footsteps died as she leant there,
   Lit by the morning star
Hanging above the moorland, where
   The aged elm-rows are;
And, as o’ernight, from Pummery Ridge
To Maembury Ring and Standfast Bridge
   No life stirred, near or far.

Though inner mischief worked amain,
   She reached her husband’s side;
Where, toil-weary, as he had lain
   Beneath the patchwork pied
When yestereve she’d forthward crept,
And as unwitting, still he slept
   Who did in her confide.

A tear sprang as she turned and viewed
   His features free from guile;
She kissed him long, as when, just wooed.
   She chose his domicile.
Death menaced now; yet less for life
She wished than that she were the wife
   That she had been erstwhile.

Time wore to six. Her husband rose
   And struck the steel and stone;
He glanced at Jenny, whose repose
   Seemed deeper than his own.
With dumb dismay, on closer sight,
He gathered sense that in the night,
   Or morn, her soul had flown.

When told that some too mighty strain
   For one so many-yeared
Had burst her *****’s master-vein,
   His doubts remained unstirred.
His Jenny had not left his side
Betwixt the eve and morning-tide:
   —The King’s said not a word.

Well! times are not as times were then,
   Nor fair ones half so free;
And truly they were martial men,
   The King’s-Own Cavalry.
And when they went from Casterbridge
And vanished over Mellstock Ridge,
   ’Twas saddest morn to see.
I said—Then, dearest, since ’tis so,
Since now at length my fate I know,
Since nothing all my love avails,
Since all, my life seem’d meant for, fails,
  Since this was written and needs must be—
My whole heart rises up to bless
Your name in pride and thankfulness!
Take back the hope you gave,—I claim
Only a memory of the same,
—And this beside, if you will not blame;
  Your leave for one more last ride with me.

My mistress bent that brow of hers,
Those deep dark eyes where pride demurs
When pity would be softening through,
Fix’d me a breathing-while or two
  With life or death in the balance: right!
The blood replenish’d me again;
My last thought was at least not vain:
I and my mistress, side by side
Shall be together, breathe and ride,
So, one day more am I deified.
  Who knows but the world may end to-night?

Hush! if you saw some western cloud
All billowy-*****’d, over-bow’d
By many benedictions—sun’s
And moon’s and evening-star’s at once—
  And so, you, looking and loving best,
Conscious grew, your passion drew
Cloud, sunset, moonrise, star-shine too,
Down on you, near and yet more near,
Till flesh must fade for heaven was here!—
Thus leant she and linger’d—joy and fear!
  Thus lay she a moment on my breast.

Then we began to ride. My soul
Smooth’d itself out, a long-cramp’d scroll
Freshening and fluttering in the wind.
Past hopes already lay behind.
  What need to strive with a life awry?
Had I said that, had I done this,
So might I gain, so might I miss.
Might she have loved me? just as well
She might have hated, who can tell!
Where had I been now if the worst befell?
  And here we are riding, she and I.

Fail I alone, in words and deeds?
Why, all men strive and who succeeds?
We rode; it seem’d my spirit flew,
Saw other regions, cities new,
  As the world rush’d by on either side.
I thought,—All labour, yet no less
Bear up beneath their unsuccess.
Look at the end of work, contrast
The petty done, the undone vast,
This present of theirs with the hopeful past!
  I hoped she would love me; here we ride.

What hand and brain went ever pair’d?
What heart alike conceived and dared?
What act proved all its thought had been?
What will but felt the fleshly screen?
  We ride and I see her ***** heave.
There ’s many a crown for who can reach.
Ten lines, a statesman’s life in each!
The flag stuck on a heap of bones,
A soldier’s doing! what atones?
They scratch his name on the Abbey-stones.
  My riding is better, by their leave.

What does it all mean, poet? Well,
Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell
What we felt only; you express’d
You hold things beautiful the best,
  And pace them in rhyme so, side by side.
’Tis something, nay ’tis much: but then,
Have you yourself what ’s best for men?
Are you—poor, sick, old ere your time—
Nearer one whit your own sublime
Than we who never have turn’d a rhyme?
  Sing, riding ’s a joy! For me, I ride.

And you, great sculptor—so, you gave
A score of years to Art, her slave,
And that ’s your Venus, whence we turn
To yonder girl that fords the burn!
  You acquiesce, and shall I repine?
What, man of music, you grown gray
With notes and nothing else to say,
Is this your sole praise from a friend,
‘Greatly his opera’s strains intend,
But in music we know how fashions end!’
  I gave my youth: but we ride, in fine.

Who knows what ’s fit for us? Had fate
Proposed bliss here should sublimate
My being—had I sign’d the bond—
Still one must lead some life beyond,
  Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried.
This foot once planted on the goal,
This glory-garland round my soul,
Could I descry such? Try and test!
I sink back shuddering from the quest.
Earth being so good, would heaven seem best?
  Now, heaven and she are beyond this ride.

And yet—she has not spoke so long!
What if heaven be that, fair and strong
At life’s best, with our eyes upturn’d
Whither life’s flower is first discern’d,
  We, fix’d so, ever should so abide?
What if we still ride on, we two
With life for ever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity,—
And heaven just prove that I and she
  Ride, ride together, for ever ride?
Wolfgang Blacke Jun 2013
Immaturity and inexperience
Things you have
Knowledge and wisdom
Things you claim to have

Please do not preach to the sinners
When you have not yet leant how to sin
Please do not profess to the learned
When you have not leant all that they know

Immaturity and inexperience
Things you have
One thousand reasons to cry
Things you have yet to come
Throught the trees of Tamarit
have come the hounds of lead
waiting for the branches to fall,
waiting till they shatter themselves.

Tamarit has an apple tree
with an apple on it that sobs.
A nightingale gathers the sighs
and a pheasant leads them off through the dust.

But the branches are happiness,
the branches are like us.
They don't think of rain, they sleep,
as if they were trees, just like that.

Sitting, their knees in water,
two valleys awaited the Fall.
The twilight with elephantine step
leant against trunks and branches.

Through the trees of Tamarit
are many children with veiled faces
waiting for my branches to fall,
waiting till they shatter themselves.
(From a Persian Carpet)


Ash and strewments, the first moth-wings, pale
Ardour of brief evenings, on the fecund wind;
Or all a wing, less than wind,
Breath of low herbs upfloats, petal or wing,
Haunting the musk precincts of burial.
For the season of newer riches moves triumphing,
Of the evanescence of deaths. These potpourris
Earth-tinctured, jet insect-bead, cinder of bloom—
How weigh while a great summer knows increase,
Ceaselessly risen, what there entombs?—
Of candour fallen from the slight stems of Mays,
Corrupt of the rim a blue shades, pensively:
So a fatigue of wishes will young eyes.
And brightened, unpurged eyes of revery, now
Not to glance to fabulous groves again!
For now deep presence is, and binds its close,
And closes down the wreathed alleys escape of sighs.
And now rich time is weaving, hidden tree,
The fable of orient threads from bough to bough.
Old rinded wood, whose lissomeness within
Has reached from nothing to its covering
These many corymbs’ flourish!—And the green
Shells which wait amber, breathing, wrought
Towards the still trance of summer’s centering,
Motives by ravished humble fingers set,
Each in a noon of its own infinite.
And here is leant the branch and its repose
of the deep leaf to the pilgrim plume. Repose,
Inflections brilliant and mute of the voyager, light!
And here the nests, and freshet throats resume
Notes over and over found, names
For the silvery ascensions of joy. Nothing is here
But moss and its bells now of the root’s night;
But the beetle’s bower, and arc from grass to grass
For the flight in gauze. Now its fresh lair,
Grass-deep, nestles the cool eft to stir
Vague newborn limbs, and the bud’s dark winding has
Access of day. Now on the subtle noon
Time’s image, at pause with being, labours free
Of all its charge, for each in coverts laid,
Of clement kind; and everlastingly,
In some elision of bright moments is known,
Changed wide as Eden, the branch whose silence sways
Dazzle of the murmurous leaves to continual tone;
Its separations, sighing to own again
Being of the ignorant wish; and sways to sight,
Waked from it nighted, the marvelous foundlings of light;
Risen and weaving from the ceaseless root
A divine ease whispers toward fruitfulness,
While all a summer’s conscience tempts the fruit.
Poetic T Nov 2016
My daughter fell in love with a potato,
                        "A potato.......
My mind was confused and my face was a picture...
of why would someone ever love a potato?

I asked this myself in my head then out loud.
     My darling how have you a fondness for a potato?

He is the only one for me he is so soft and never
has a chip on his shoulder..


A chip? really, how did you meet my little lady.
He was just mulling around in a mash pit,
The music was the spud rock and he was my root.

I will have to meet you new boyfriend,
Dad, I love Barry, he even let me  wear his jacket
it was so fluffy inside...

Fathers out there would have the same look on
their face as I do now!!!!!
"OK,  as I was waiting impatiently to see this lad.

She walked in hand in hand, I just gave the daddy
look, hi Barry he stared in a starch looking gaze.
my daughter spoke "I'll just get my bag,

I spoke in my sternest voice,
"Barry if you don't treat my daughter right,
"Lets just say ill mash you up, understand....

And then they left not the gentlemen of before
no jacket to lend her, just walking out the door
like he had just been roasted by my words...

Hours had past worry in my thoughts then my
daughter came back, tears in her eyes.
"What ever was the matter my darling?

"He had steamed off because I wanted to know
why he never leant me his jacket,


"He said I was being a dumpling with him,

"So I told him you were right and that he had
a chip on his shoulder, he replied I was fried,


I told her that potato's can be a little mashed, and
a chip they will always have, because you cant change
a potato they will always have a little starch inside...
Wrote for my ten year old :)
"Oh whence do you come, my dear friend, to me,
With your golden hair all fallen below your knee,
And your face as white as snowdrops on the lea,
And your voice as hollow as the hollow sea?"

"From the other world I come back to you,
My locks are uncurled with dripping drenching dew.
You know the old, whilst I know the new:
But tomorrow you shall know this too."

"Oh not tomorrow into the dark, I pray;
Oh not tomorrow, too soon to go away:
Here I feel warm and well-content and gay:
Give me another year, another day."

"Am I so changed in a day and a night
That mine own only love shrinks from me with fright,
Is fain to turn away to left or right
And cover up his eyes from the sight?"

"Indeed I loved you, my chosen friend,
I loved you for life, but life has an end;
Thro' sickness I was ready to tend:
But death mars all, which we cannot mend.

"Indeed I loved you; I love you yet
If you will stay where your bed is set,
Where I have planted a violet
Which the wind waves, which the dew makes wet."

"Life is gone, then love too is gone,
It was a reed that I leant upon:
Never doubt I will leave you alone
And not wake you rattling bone with bone.

"I go home alone to my bed,
Dug deep at the foot and deep at the head,
Roofed in with a load of lead,
Warm enough for the forgotten dead.

"But why did your tears soak thro' the clay,
And why did your sobs wake me where I lay?
I was away, far enough away:
Let me sleep now till the Judgment Day."
Such was the heraldry of your being.
You stood before those who were of lower standing as you viewed them,
appointed oneself upward through controversial means, non of which were worthy of commendation. Corruption rose you to dizzy heights and watched as you violated the lives of others.
The lawful way is inconsistent and trust, honesty and goodness are words flaunted by your immoral and malicious demonstration. For ones own ends you walked the walk.
Now become by expiration, death should hold no surprises for one so foul.
The underworld is your new domicile and untold pain and torment are your future. Across the Styx, Charon will deliver you unto me. Watch with care the affliction of those minions that seek exoneration below the black wash. Purgatory however is beyond any reach that will veil itself to you.
Your appointment is of a somewhat personal nature to me and along with myself and eternity you will wish life had leant you on another path.
10th Jan, 2015
He was standing out on the balcony
While the party raged inside,
I’d had enough of the trivial talk,
Boosting each other’s pride,
I went and I stood some feet away
As he stared up at the stars,
‘Your sky is rather ordinary,
Not in the least like ours!’

I managed a double take at that
I’d noticed him once before,
He seemed to be on his own, and lonely
Sad, and a bit unsure,
He watched the girls in their party clothes
As they laughed, and talked and sighed,
‘Our Evrons never would dress like that
The colours would hurt their eyes.’

I laughed, thought he was having me on
But he didn’t even smile,
‘I shouldn’t have jumped the Interspace
But stuck with the Stellar Mile,
They said to avoid the Milky Way
But me, I jumped the gun,
The only reason they’d come this way
Is to dump, on the Garbage Run.’

‘I think you’re a little eccentric, and
You’re maybe a little drunk,
You don’t look much like an alien,
And aliens, well, they’re bunk!
But now you’re going to tell me you’re
A little green man from Mars!’
‘Oh, much, much further than that,’ he said
‘I come from a distant star.’

‘Oh yes,’ I said, just to humour him
But a chill crept up my spine,
He seemed so positive, standing there
A man from another time.
‘So tell me, what is so different to
The place that you call your home.’
He offered the piece de resistance then,
‘We live in an Astrodome.’

‘The air surrounding planet Vair
Has become too thin to breathe,
Since ever the trees and lipids died
And we found that we couldn’t leave.
The planet was ***** and plundered
For a million years or so,
And now it’s a dying shell we need
To find some planet to go.’

‘I think that I may have found it, though
Your culture’s such a bore,
You worship all material things
And your planet’s still at war,
We’ll have to thin out your people and
Improve your planet’s race,
You’re going to have to move over when
We come from outer space.’

‘How many of you are here right now?’
I tried to sound surprised,
He said, ‘I’m travelling on my own,’
And I looked into his eyes,
‘So none of your people know we’re here
Until you decide to tell!’
He turned to me, and he shook his head,
I said, ‘That’s just as well.’

I walked him around the garden and
I picked his brains for hours,
He told me about their laser rays
And their telepathic powers,
Then finally when he asked my leave
And buttoned up his coat,
I stabbed him with some garden shears
Leant down, and cut his throat!

David Lewis Paget
Cecil Miller Sep 2015
Did anybody tell you 'bout them Bourbon blues,
When you're walkin' in the gutter,
Where they guess 'bout your shoes,
When you ain't got no hope,
The greasy Easy isn't fair,
The only sunny side
Is that you haven't got a prayer,

When you done ****** it all away,
When you don't have another cent,
Your too old to be pitied,
And your strut has long since leant...
Ain't no more - bright ideas - left to come?

Oh, the sultry morning due
Makes your damp clothes cling to you,
And the only thing you want
Is to find a place to lay...
You rack your mem'ry hard
To see which way to move your feet,
Cause you used up - your last -
Free mission day...

You need a hustle, boy,
Because the day is at an end,
Your feet are bleeding badly,
And you haven't got a friend
Who can get you an overnight
At the Jesus Do-Right Inn...

Got to keep a-moving,
You are one-hundred sixteen thin,
You know they're looking,
But  your not quite ready
To turn your sorry *** in,
Well, you know, that really is when...

You're in a ******-up - state of - mind~
Early this morning, after a bout of insomnia, I decided to write soIme lyrics about the sometimes seedy circimstances in New Orleans. It didn't take long to work up. I posted about four minutes till 5am on sept 1, 2015. It ain't too pretty, but at times, I do it gritty. At 11:30 pm, on Sept 1, I reworked, and added, some lines.
This is a spray the Bird clung to,
Making it blossom with pleasure,
Ere the high tree-top she sprung to,
Fit for her nest and her treasure.
Oh, what a hope beyond measure
Was the poor spray’s, which the flying feet hung to,—
So to be singled out, built in, and sung to!

This is a heart the Queen leant on,
Thrilled in a minute erratic,
Ere the true ***** she bent on,
Meet for love’s regal dalmatic.
Oh, what a fancy ecstatic
Was the poor heart’s, ere the wanderer went on—
Love to be saved for it, proffered to, spent on!
A DOLL in the doll-maker's house
Looks at the cradle and bawls:
"That is an insult to us.'
But the oldest of all the dolls,
Who had seen, being kept for show,
Generations of his sort,
Out-screams the whole shelf:  'Although
There's not a man can report
Evil of this place,
The man and the woman bring
Hither, to our disgrace,
A noisy and filthy thing.'
Hearing him groan and stretch
The doll-maker's wife is aware
Her husband has heard the wretch,
And crouched by the arm of his chair,
She murmurs into his ear,
Head upon shoulder leant:
"My dear, my dear, O dear.
It was an accident.'
Lennox Jones Mar 2015
“What do you think wisdom is,” she asked.
“The purification of life," he replied,
as leant over and kissed her.
"I know where the timid fawn abides
  In the depths of the shaded dell,
Where the leaves are broad and the thicket hides,
With its many stems and its tangled sides,
  From the eye of the hunter well.

"I know where the young May violet grows,
  In its lone and lowly nook,
On the mossy bank, where the larch-tree throws
Its broad dark boughs, in solemn repose,
  Far over the silent brook.

"And that timid fawn starts not with fear
  When I steal to her secret bower;
And that young May violet to me is dear,
And I visit the silent streamlet near,
  To look on the lovely flower."

Thus Maquon sings as he lightly walks
  To the hunting-ground on the hills;
'Tis a song of his maid of the woods and rocks,
With her bright black eyes and long black locks,
  And voice like the music of rills.

He goes to the chase--but evil eyes
  Are at watch in the thicker shades;
For she was lovely that smiled on his sighs,
And he bore, from a hundred lovers, his prize,
  The flower of the forest maids.

The boughs in the morning wind are stirred,
  And the woods their song renew,
With the early carol of many a bird,
And the quickened tune of the streamlet heard
  Where the hazels trickle with dew.

And Maquon has promised his dark-haired maid,
  Ere eve shall redden the sky,
A good red deer from the forest shade,
That bounds with the herd through grove and glade,
  At her cabin-door shall lie.

The hollow woods, in the setting sun,
  Ring shrill with the fire-bird's lay;
And Maquon's sylvan labours are done,
And his shafts are spent, but the spoil they won
  He bears on his homeward way.

He stops near his bower--his eye perceives
  Strange traces along the ground--
At once to the earth his burden he heaves,
He breaks through the veil of boughs and leaves,
  And gains its door with a bound.

But the vines are torn on its walls that leant,
  And all from the young shrubs there
By struggling hands have the leaves been rent,
And there hangs on the sassafras, broken and bent,
  One tress of the well-known hair.

But where is she who, at this calm hour,
  Ever watched his coming to see?
She is not at the door, nor yet in the bower;
He calls--but he only hears on the flower
  The hum of the laden bee.

It is not a time for idle grief,
  Nor a time for tears to flow;
The horror that freezes his limbs is brief--
He grasps his war-axe and bow, and a sheaf
  Of darts made sharp for the foe.

And he looks for the print of the ruffian's feet,
  Where he bore the maiden away;
And he darts on the fatal path more fleet
Than the blast that hurries the vapour and sleet
  O'er the wild November day.

'Twas early summer when Maquon's bride
  Was stolen away from his door;
But at length the maples in crimson are dyed,
And the grape is black on the cabin side,--
  And she smiles at his hearth once more.

But far in the pine-grove, dark and cold,
  Where the yellow leaf falls not,
Nor the autumn shines in scarlet and gold,
There lies a hillock of fresh dark mould,
  In the deepest gloom of the spot.

And the Indian girls, that pass that way,
  Point out the ravisher's grave;
"And how soon to the bower she loved," they say,
"Returned the maid that was borne away
  From Maquon, the fond and the brave."
756

One Blessing had I than the rest
So larger to my Eyes
That I stopped gauging—satisfied—
For this enchanted size—

It was the limit of my Dream—
The focus of my Prayer—
A perfect—paralyzing Bliss—
Contented as Despair—

I knew no more of Want—or Cold—
Phantasms both become
For this new Value in the Soul—
Supremest Earthly Sum—

The Heaven below the Heaven above—
Obscured with ruddier Blue—
Life’s Latitudes leant over—full—
The Judgment perished—too—

Why Bliss so ******* disburse—
Why Paradise defer—
Why Floods be served to Us—in Bowls—
I speculate no more—
Esmé van Aerden Oct 2013
he told me, "put down the cigarette,"
worried i'd get sick.
i looked at him with regret,
craving nicotine like a nervous tick.
we left around half past twelve,
just to clear the air,
leaving my heart on the shelves.
he asked, "is this really fair?
breaking my heart this way?"
he reiterated his worry.
and i laughed it all away
"don't fret, my honey.
i'm clean and new.
my heart has been glued
and is no longer in two.
i'm eating my food -
see look! my ribs!
they're aren't as pronounced.
maybe one day we really can have kids."
his hand held mine as he denounced
that i was still no good
i was still no better
than before emotions would flood
his heart, i still his debtor.
so on i went,
forward to the waves,
and on this pole i leant,
until i came to with sun's rays...
and i became one with the sea.
she is more than i would ever be.
babydulle Apr 2014
When we have sleepovers, we do have pillow fights in our underwear.
In knickers and crop tops we beat the **** out of each other for fun.
And then we eat pizza.
A lot of pizza.
And then we cry over mean boys and boys who don’t love us back and girls who are confusing.
We talk about ***. About *** with our crushes. Whether *** would be fun outside behind bushes or inside on cushions.

We talk about ***.
I say how they don’t give us enough education on it in schools.
Everything I’ve learnt about *** and my body was from the internet. I was never taught what happened to girls when boys got ‘happy’, only ever the biological logistics.
Us girls were never told how we’d feel like we were on fire. Only that we had to wait until the water pipes had done their job before we even felt like the flames had been put out.
We were told to wait.
Wait until you’re older until you get another piercing.
Wait until the puppy fat has gone and then you’ll feel attractive.
Wait until the strange boy at the party puts his hand on your knee to find yourself worthy of another person’s touch.
Why did I never feel like my palms were enough?
My friend tells us in dim lights under the quilts that she’s never kissed a boy she was in love with.
And I realise I haven’t either.

We have thrown ourselves around like an unstable fairground ride.
But I have always hated the way rides make me feel sick and like I don’t know what I am doing.
These boys make me feel disorientated.
I should call them men now.
But I still think of him as the young kid I went to school with.
Leant over piano in-between classes and squinting until I told him to wear his glasses.
I see him every time I clamber off the helter skelter.
I tell my friends that every time I kiss a stranger, I just see his face in those distorted mirrors. I don’t want to play anymore.

We stay up until 5am.
She tells me she wants three kids; two girls and a boy.
And I tell her I want to get married abroad, get drunk on merry-go-rounds with him, and hold his hand through the haunted house because I’ve never been not scared of something.
Girls are always taught to be scared of something.

In the morning, we make pancakes.
Sit on the kitchen floor, listening to the old radio on the counter and the sound of rain thrashing down on the windows.
There is a safety in your best friends.
There is a safety in knowing you are all scared of something; together.
Robyn Sep 2012
I couldn't tell if he leant forward or backward in his chair
It was unclear whether is eyes were soft or steely
or if he was even looking at me
It was difficult to hear his inflection when he said
"You're really quite something. You know that?"
I didn't know if he'd find it funny if I said
"If I say yes, won't that sound a tad narcissistic?"
so i said it anyway

I couldn't tell if his eyes sparkled with inner mirth
or if they remained dull in the stupidity of my comment
He didn't convey intrest in me, nor disintrest.
He may have leant forward and he may have said
"Yes, but you didn't say yes did you."
He may have paused, then said
"You sound like you don't receive compliments like that too often."

He may have said compliment, I wasn't sure

I shifted uncomfortably and replied
"How can you tell?"

I think

I think he gestured with his hand to the fact that I was fidgeting.
"Because you don't know how to react."

I heard him that time.

Was he still looking at me?
I didn't know if I was offended or flattered.
But I did know that I took a deep breath and said
"I do know how to react. But I've heard using my sense of humour in situations like this pushes people away. . . apparently."
I think I was pretending to be serious.

I'm almost positive he was quiet for a while, still staring me down

or was he looking shyly?

And the stillness between us, that I'm pretty sure had settled, grew so long, I think I almost walked off.
That was until he smiled.
And the smile, I was sure about.
Tryst Apr 2016
In pressing times truth oft' lies so oppressed
And falsehoods rouse to speak in joyed debate
That burdens brought to bear upon the breast
Might anchor nought but will of one testate

What courage leant upon a graven guest
Not thrift of fear in bearing of his fate
But silent as all untruths so expressed,
Except to cry with cursed tongue, "More weight!"
Giles Corey was executed via "Pressing" during the Salem Witch Trials on September 19th 1692 at the age of 81.  He refused to enter any plea against the charges of witchcraft, as was his legal right.
Entering a plea meant he could be tried in court and if found guilty, all of his estate would be forfeit to the crown.
By not entering a plea his assets could be passed to his children.  To prevent people from using this legal loophole, the law allowed a person to be "Pressed".  This involved the person being stripped, having a large plank placed upon their chest, and then large rocks piled on top of the plank to slowly crush the chest, until a plea is entered or until death occurs.  Giles endured his torture for two days before succumbing, only ever crying out "More weight!" when asked for his plea.
Ben Jones Apr 2014
Peter built a paper boat
To set afloat upon the sea
And visit spots of hidden coast
Where not a ghost of man would be
He painted letters on her bow
Which soon would plough and skip and trot
Between the waves which rose and fell
The letters spelled ‘Forget Me Not’

He bid his love a fond goodbye
The tide was high when he embarked
And drifted from his lonely cove
While weather drove and seagulls larked
His course was set, horizon bound
For solid ground and ****** shore
When darkness fell he made a bed
'Goodnight' he said and nothing more

His fast was broken elegantly
Delicately poached, his eggs
His freshly laundered morning clothes
Were hung in rows on paper pegs
He cut a furrow, straight and true
Across the blue, towards the sun
But in the distance, lightning spat
As thunder rattled, eddies spun

The tempest threw a wall of ice
Like careless dice, they clattered down
The sails dropped amid the squall
The hatches all were battened down
A curse was uttered through the storm
Its evil born on salty spray
With gusting arms of icy wet
It threw Forget Me Not away

He coughed awake, all caked in sand
Upon a strand of desert beach
Forget Me Not had run a-ground
But safely found the water's reach
He walked ashore and found a glade
Within it, made a paper home
And origami wings, he built
To never wilt and ever roam

He felled the tree and smote the ground
A frame, he wound of paper string
His garden flourished all around
Each sight and sound of ever-spring
The flowers jostled in their beds
And turned their heads to follow him
He kept his distance from the blue
In case the view should swallow him

An evil creature stalked the trees
It dined on bees and butterflies
On owls and cats, it liked to sup
To gobble up and gluttonize
With paper sword, he killed the beast
And cooked a feast to celebrate
A rain cloud sought to disagree
But quick was he to remonstrate

He flew his island, shore to shore
And kept a score of fire flies
They hung imprisoned in a glass
The light they cast could hypnotise
With nothing left to see or do
He flew up to the highest spot
And carved into a single tree
Remember me, forget me not

His boat remade and set a-sail
The heavens pale with early dawn
Upon his bed, he sat inert
With paper curtains neatly drawn
His charts uncharted, compass blunt
A currant bun, to satiate
A world of peril out to sea
To skillfully negotiate

Some time to contemplate the past
And backward cast the here and now
The Merfolk sang a siren song
And leapt along beside his bough
They guided him to foreign ports
Where shady sorts in cider soak
The tales they told were sizeable
And risible, the words they spoke

He folded down his paper boat
Into a coat of paper lace
And set the ocean to his back
The open track, he turned to face
The way he took was through a copse
The swaying tops of mighty pines
Leant form and rhythm to his pace
Upon his face were thoughtful lines

To either side, the shadows grew
No more, the blue shone through the boughs
And branch and bracken, driven wide
Were cast aside as careless vows
He chanced upon a quiet nook
A winding brook, it scurried by
It seemed a place where time would bide
While either side it hurried by

So dining sparse on only bread
He laid his head upon the ground
A lullaby the branches sighed
Was far and wide, the only sound
He deftly pitched a paper tent
And in it, spent a weary night
A whisper echoed in his ear
It lingered near, beyond his sight

So many weeks of rambling
Through bramble and through briar patch
And pausing for an hour at best
With feet to rest and breath to catch
The summer season on the wane
With autumn rain, attention pinned
To pounce on unsuspecting shoulder
Ever colder rose the wind

Above the adolescent fruit
Fed by the roots of ancient trees
Gave promise of a juicy crop
But yet to drop, they simply tease
Upon a morning laced with dew
A shadow grew and fell across
The spongy ground rose underfoot
And boulders jutted through the moss

The space between the trunks expanded
Saplings stranded on the scree
And whispers carried on the air
From places where they couldn't be
A sheer cliff now blocked the way
A ***** gray and smothering
Against, there thrived a mess of vines
With jagged spines their covering

He found a cave and ventured in
A desperate grin upon his lips
His chattering of nervous teeth
Was lost beneath the endless drips
Reverberating ceaselessly
Increasing with each fall of foot
A passageway and crooked path
By wrath of ancient water, cut

The arid air was felt to shift
And Peter sniffed a musky trace
The passage opened wide and tall
It sprawled into a massive space
The walls were smooth as beetle hide
But all inside was bathed in black
The flies were putting up a fight
But solid night was biting back

A tower carved from stalactite
In spite of probability
Was looming from the cavern top
And from it dropped futility
A spring of purest liquid gloom
Within, there bloomed an evil thirst
For those who drank a thimble worth
Would tread the earth, forever cursed

The cavern floor was laced with dust
A powdered crust of rotted skin
As Peter neared the central spire
The fire flies grew weak and thin
But all across the distant dark
There lit a spark and sprang a flame
That burst from ancient blackened lamp
To banish damp and shadow shame

A scrabbling amid the murk
As forward, lurked a breaking wave
Of decomposing denizens
The citizens of Evergrave
With sinew bared through rotted hide
The flesh inside was yellowing
From every throat that still remained
There shot a baneful bellowing

They forced him to the tower's tip
From which the drip of night was thrown
Gruesome stairs he climbed in haste
Of interlaced and knotted bone
A dire tunnel led within
The light was thin and shadow thick
A deathly door he tumbled through
And fell into a bloodied slick

Within was rank and heavy air
Like foxes lair where hunters slept
The walls, from living flesh, were stitched
The carpet twitched as Peter stepped
The Zombie Queen sat on her throne
Of flesh and bone of Underlands
She rested on its gory arms
Which raised their palms and held her hands

The creature laughed and cocked her head
A single thread of drool there hung
Between her lips and fear crowned
The single sound which echoes sung
The living walls, they tensed and strained
As terror reigned and ichor dripped
And when the monarch of the dead
Inclined her head, the stitches ripped

She spoke in harsh and bitter tones
As withered crones do curses bloom
The fate of Peter turned to dread
His soul, the dead would soon entomb
A single card he had to play
On such a day, in such a spot
He grinned and bid the rotting queen
‘Your time has been, forget me not’

His folded coat he casted wide
And from inside, a paper storm
Within the flurry, shapes were made
As wings were splayed and talons formed
A paper dragon rustled forth
And in his jaws, the queen he caught
He turned on the assembled dead
Within his head, a single thought

Peter climbed between the wings
Where paper rings he’d fastened there
Gave safety for the coming fight
And all the night, he nestled there
Until the dragon fell asleep
Upon a heap of smitten foes
And Peter robbed the deathly hoard
Each room explored on stealthy toes

He shunned the dark and met the day
And made away for higher ground
Along a path of narrow ledges
Razor edges, upwards wound
A trail, he scaled around the peak
Of Raven’s Beak the mighty mount
Up slopes which claimed so many lives
And widowed wives beyond his count

He stood atop the pinnacle
Where clinical, the ****** snow
Reflecting in the autumn light
Lent all a white and eerie glow
The frost had chilled his fleshy core
His eyes absorbed the scenery
A distant shoreline tugged his soul
A long unfolding memory

Of home and of his fireside
His future bride would tarry there
The tiny church upon the sand
He’d always planned to marry there
He took his dagger from his sock
Into the rock at just that spot
He carved upon the highest stone
I turn to home, forget me not

The knotted land that lay between
Had never been abode to man
The name it took was infamous
And ominous: The Neverspan
Its valleys tinkered with the eye
A fractured sky shone crookedly
Above a wood of vacant trees
That clawed the breezes hookedly

The setting sun would lead the way
Through lands which lay in wait for him
To bare him forth, a paper horse
To keep a course and gait for him
The blackness trickled from the bark
The  tangled dark enshrouded him
And songs in long forgotten tongues
About him hung and clouded him

He journeyed through the Ebonmire
Though fire failed to kindle there
His breath before him writhed in blight
And turned to fight the rancid air
Through many months of loneliness
And bitterness of solitude
He conquered the abandoned wood
And silent stood in gratitude

He forayed through the hill and plain
As on the wane the winters hold
The grass had shaken off the snow
Its Icy glow had turned to gold
A paper hat he now prepared
For as he fared, the rain endured
His horse was crumpled in the wet
No living vet would see it cured

The seasons tumbled mindlessly
And rivalry removed his haste
A sallow band of Neverbeast
By shadow greased and interlaced
With paper sword, he lay in wait
To penetrate each haggard hide
And when their blood was deftly spilled
A phial he filled for sake of pride

The sun became his only guide
His face belied his weariness
With little left to raise his soul
Above the cold and dreariness
Until the second summer passed
And sunset cast a silhouette
The outline of a tiny church
Was perched beside a maisonette

A flutter leapt about his heart
And wide apart, his eyes were flung
As Peter ran with tired limbs
The heavens dimmed and crickets sung
He reached his open garden gate
His face elated, turned to woe
As through the window he could see
His bride to be would not be so

A gentleman stood at her side
His bride adorned in happiness
And though it burned in Peter’s chest
His wrath would rest in idleness
So with a final fleeting peek
He turned to seek a worthy cause
Before he left he knelt before
His former door and seemed to pause

He fled upon his paper wings
As many things he’d yet to see
A myriad of foreign faces
Distant places he should be
He sailed the sky and sought the sand
His native land he soon forgot
Behind, he left a single note
And on it wrote: Forget me not
Marigold Jan 2013
The problem with bright futures
Is that they grow as dull as everything else.
They too collect dust,
Hold every speck of dirt they can find -
Until you wake one morning and realise you are trapped.

See the walls have crept closer
And the ceilings leant down to hug the floor.
But they're only there to support you,
Because they love you so,
And they do not see their embrace can crush.

— The End —