A Nightfall Shared By All

This poem is Part I in the Deadwoods series. You can read more about the series in general here.

Usher forth the inversion of the clouds,
the sky shall now sleep underground.
Without reason is this ceaseless night;
the missing beacon that is moonlight.

When the sun slept it refused to rise
and the same was said for the other side.
Some say it resides with the dead,
dormant upon its grey funeral bed.

Trees in the breeze now shiver sadly
where they once danced all too gladly.
Animation in nature has come to a close
as the petals begin to fall from the rose.

Seething superstition has come to a simmer;
a saint has been made of every sinner.
The heathen now withdraws their disbelief
in the fear of whatever shall lie beneath.

It seems that our Gods have been lulled to sleep;
silence shall resound as the angels weep.
The church halls face now the abyssal doubt
when the chill of stark forsakenness abounds.

For now we watch the candles burn
because all clocks have refused to turn.
Time is told by the perishing wick
rather than the second hand’s faint tick,
as our minds cannot help but think
‘when shall we wither and become sick?’

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Sleep Beneath Crossroads

The sun sends its light unto where I sleep
beneath a four-spoked post, buried metres deep.
Spare a gaze to the withered white yonder,
far beyond lands that you would dare wander.
Here at the crossroads is where we may meet
removed from the grounds where widows weep.

Spared no cenotaph nor celebration
hidden is the site of my commemoration.
Staked to the stones by seeds of superstition
flowering as fears of a returning apparition.
Unworthy of ceremony and of convocation
my body is a marker of the soil’s desecration.

My waking years rendered me uncharted;
with no change now that I have departed.
The taint of my wickedness must be allayed
though we are all buried to meet with decay.
It’s a blood process, what I have started,
to become disenfranchised and discarded.

Beyond The Stained Glass

This is a poem about someone who has been fascinated by what they have read about the Renaissance in books and what they have seen in paintings. They are totally entranced by the beauty of it and they would like to go five hundred years back in time to Italy and see it for themselves. This poem imagines that they have found themselves there and have found it to be a more complicated place than the picture they have been presented with. A place of danger and persecution, as well as artistic and intellectual enlightenment.

I’ve only seen the Renaissance in books and frames,
and in my mind this is such a great shame.
If I could charter a ship and sail through time,
I would talk with all of the great thinkers and minds.

Be a muse for Da Vinci and even more for Botticelli,
then return and wonder ‘have I lived once already?’
See a face in a painting that’s awfully familiar,
yet I’d just put it down to someone similar.

Dante’s circles may not be quite my thing
but neither are the angels that do sing.
Florence is hot in this Summer of flame
I must take care to not join this game.

I gaze in wonder at the grand ships of trade
but I remember the woes of those enslaved.
Who paid for the splendid basilica dome?
How much blood was sold to construct Rome?

I bring to mind what Machiavelli said,
keep yourself alive and bow your head.
These are the cities where the saints do sleep,
I should go home lest I wander too deep.

Asphodel Meadows

I used the concept of part of the Ancient Greek Underworld as a metaphor to describe my own feelings at the time. Those who had lived unexceptional lives, were believed to be sent to the ‘Asphodel Meadows’ – a rather banal place. I saw this as somewhat comparable to my own life. I was asking myself, ‘what was I doing?’ I couldn’t think of anything exceptional that I had done, or that I could possibly do.

I was delivered unto a place of grey.
All I could do was to sit on the dry grass
and reflect on what had made this my home.
It wasn’t by choice that I lived so ordinarily;
in the vale of years I remained uninspired.
No creation to my identity,
nothing synonymous to my name.
Not a dent was made
on the clay model of lifespan.
No handprints left from efforts to press down,
just the puddles of raining ink that I had spilled.
Through pleasantries, I found no ascension.
To be polite, is to be enveloped by time.
Becoming a grain of sand, one for the mound,
without a notion to change.
What I dreamt to express, the words refused to orchestrate.
instead, every meaning and feeling eluded me.
Now it’s too late,
for I am bound to a constant.
I harvest grain, only for it to rot from birth.
I walk under trees, but no leaves will fall.
I long to flow forgetfulness into my mouth,
and let Lethe, oblivion’s patron, rebirth my soul,
lest I linger here, burning in monochrome.
I preserved ambition into the afterlife.
But I’m trapped by stone peaks,
in this arid valley.
I dream of the Elysian;
the sunshine gold that I stretched too far for.
Only the notorious achieve the prize,
And the mediocre inherit a static land.
Surrounded by spectres that I do not identify with,
They mourn, and themselves become mist.
I don’t belong to the haze,
but it has me, and I dissolve into white smoke.
I become one among the dull trees,
swirling with the dust on the ground.
Even when it was Earthly air that I breathed,
I acted the role of the scenery.
Never finding the voiced half of my thoughts,
and always being swayed to a direction.
Like a river of opinion.I was a tiny stone,
being ground to salt by the louder pebbles,
and integrated into the scream.
I was shouted down.
The Elysian Fields are full of loud voices.

The Portrait And Landscape Of Lady Jane

I suppose this is where my inner-history student comes to the surface of my poetry. This discusses the way that the personality of Lady Jane Grey has been interpreted in history. From victimised puppet, to a cunning woman, clever in the coup that gave her the crown. I’d like to think that the actuality of the situation is much less black and white than this interpretation suggests. Lady Jane Grey, in order for a Protestant succession to be achieved was named as heir to the throne of Edward VI. It is likely that his will was hastily altered in order to accommodate for this to happen, and it was not his decision. This was to stop the Catholic Mary I from coming to the throne. This, predictably did not work. Public support generally went in favour of those who had the natural right to rule, and this was seen as Mary’s right. Mary became Queen of England in 1553, and Lady Jane was confined in the Tower of London. Originally, she wasn’t going to be executed, but it was on the insistence of Philip of Spain, Mary’s to-be husband that Jane be executed, as she was seen as a possible figurehead of rebellion, which Mary (popularly and inaccurately demonised as being evil) was extremely reluctant to do, but knew that it was inevitable. 

A planned construction like the scaffold,

a calculation of canvas and oil paint.

Herself, not central, but her white gown

on her, she was transformed into

the immaculate virgin raped by the axe.

The head that harboured the crown;

guileless, apparently so.

The chest that took anointing oil;

a pale close to snow.

We observe her memory

through stained glass.

We see her outline,

but let our minds be coloured.

The paints of propaganda,

the murmurings of martyrdom,

whisper the stories of

a flowering rose of red and white,

and a severing of the stem.

An undercurrent still remains,

suggesting a sliver of guilt.

She is now stripped of petals,

causing the core to wilt.

Clouding The Cruciform

This poem was inspired by the crusades of the medieval period, and begs the question of motive. What were these people on crusade for? Honour? Glory? Their own kind of hedonism? Or was it of a religious conviction deeper than that? I get the feeling that the religious aspect of it played second fiddle to other factors.

I hear grunts from the men of flame
muttering in disgust from their base.
They say ‘infidel’ in lieu of a name.
The cross on their chest an illusion of grace;
I sense nothing holy in this sterile place.

One could suspect their crucible soul,
working in tandem with political minds.
Do two come together to forge a whole?
Does one preside leaving another behind?
But, how dare I think our conquest maligned?

This wasn’t a voyage from my conviction;
I crossed land and ocean cerebrally bound,
through fleeting shackles of marital affliction.
I dared not dispute lest I faced the sound,
of laboured breath as my identity drowned.

They wish to betray those we came to aid,
plunderous propositions for the city of gold.
Byzantium falls and fortunes are made,
on a damnable deal in which faith is sold.
Stories of the butchered ones will lay untold.

I work among washerwomen and whores,
not worth a fraction of the soldiers’ spit;
serviced, shamed and constantly deplored.
The flames of greed spread as they permit.
Conversely, these are crimes I could not acquit.

Between Piety And Fear

This poem takes on the subject of conditional faith. How people turn to religion in times of crisis. Not a criticism of religion in general, but perhaps those who will only turn to it in times of disaster, and the hypocrisy of that. Like a lot of what I write, it’s put in a historical perspective.

A nefarious tornado

with an evil eye.

She winked at me and said

many won’t survive.

 —-

The spirits of this storm

are from a Devil’s breath.

They’ll lay you in their cradle

and pitch your soul to death.

 —-

The leaves they flee northwards;

trees try to follow suit.

They are shackled to the ground

and severed are their roots.

 —-

Untraced by cosmic prophecy;

it’s baffled all our seers.

Uncertainty forces us into

a glass structure of fear.

 —-

God, is this a message?

A reminder of our sin?

A punishment for celebration

of the depravity we’re in.

 —-

Or is this Satan’s frontier,

born from his own mind?

A raging hell-sent whirlwind,

to eliminate our kind?

 —-

I kneel in my stone chamber,

and pray for retribution.

The winds give me piety,

From fear of execution.