Annual Commemoration of the Divine Passion

You eclipse me & I have stained the Sun with black love . . .
death from a bottle cools my ardour
for a while, until I see you again.

The damp distance is bleached
then blackened with shadows
& flocks of shrill birds, screaming for blood

Bound hands grow swollen
body – silently numbed
a bed on fire I laid upon
now reddened with burning life

In these blistered hours of insomnia
objects are like lead
I believe they are other things & less than they are
as if fewer of them would create
a stillness like sleep
— if only to dream of her again

The cushions beckon in the mirror
white & summoning, judicious
the bed reflected in that fantasy land,
that round pool of hope

Why stir dust on a sacred tomb
as I lay down with a prayer for darkness
a snowflake melts on her virgin eyelids
somewhere & now, together again
we drink every breath of poisoned air
she asleep, I awake . . .

Not believing in resurrection —
I stroll through cemeteries
looking for her name, not wanting to see it
the damp brown earth reminds me
every hour we breathe is our last;
victims don’t want blind skies
their toil & consistency as mortals
are truer religions than faith itself,
so welcome me as one of them — into your house.

The last star’s neon spark
will be dissolved painlessly.
Morning will knock on the window, still —
like a grey wet wind
slow day will begin to stir.
Livestock shiver in the cold dawn,
some kind of slaughterhouse morn
the blood drained dreams
dissipate, replaced by
perpetual sameness . . .

Awakened from a long dark dream,
I thought I saw her somewhere in there
the awesome force of sleep’s return
shut me down like wild song
like black amphibious wine
a hollow ghost —
peering senselessly through the cold
window of every lost night

This morning once again
on motionless ground,
& along with it
drinking cold mountain air outside;
refined air, once, our air . . .

Across the crisp cool valley — white snow
blue mountains of decrepit glass & dream
dissolve, in this fresh green brocade

Hope sparkles in the diamond dew
that mirrors the sun
for a minute
while across the way, beyond this place
despair draws its dark curtain of cloud
over the broken road;
another day annexed,
closer to you again, I come.

This poem was written as a bit of a homage to Osip Mandelstam. If you haven't read any of his poetry then I recommend you do - far superior to most of the dross being produced these days!!!


  1. This is a good, very good, poem - but you spoil things with your generalised attack on contemporary "dross"...

    It seems bitter.

    What is your definition of what is good poetry? Personally I have never found anyone able to even define sufficiently what poetry is; let alone to be sure of what is good or bad - I don't make many such judgments - I rely more on what I like. I feel that negative judgements etc tend to limit one's openess to alternative ideas - new or old ideas - so one gets certain cliques or groups who eschew other poetries and so on - they tend thus to miss much that is valid, stimulating, or interesting; that may not be what they consider "innovative" or current or challenging - while, on the other hand, there are those who nostalgically hanker for some theoretically "better" time when poetry or writing [or their fixed idea of what poetry should be, and, they think, was] or (sometimes everything) was better..which it never was because the poetry (or music or whatever) of someone writing or creating in some present time is what what is being written now will one day be.

    Which poets (or poems) write (or are) "dross" according to you? How do you judge it so?

    I think there is an extraordinary amount of excellent poetry being written nowadays as ever - in many different places and in many different styles. Perhaps in fact there is better writing and more of it - however "better" can be defined - nowadays than ever bfore - certainly there is a lot of very interesting and challenging work about.

  2. Personally speaking Richard, this is in no ways an objective viewpoint. I admit i have biases directly related to a certain amount of 'couldn't give a . . . .!!! My blog, my opinions, no apology or justification needed - it is what it is. Nevertheless, comment appreciated. Sometimes i feel a bit hopeless as a poet and feel like what i want to say is a story, rather than a burgeoning metaphor, hence my general impression of poetry is that even the best poets today are penniless, unless they diversify. For me it is a question of humanity and a slightly darker, sceptical look at life and people who are not prepared to call a potato, a potato {for whatever reason}. Anyway, that's another part of the problem, a slight disposition to annotate after a few drams. Once again, cheers for the comment. {I guess i just meant to say i'm sick of reading revered poetry that deals repetitively with natural motifs such as "Nor'westers","Wind-swept valleys" or covered in "red-roses", see - told you I was cynical!}. Could you please recommend a few of these "excellent" poets, as i am slightly disillusioned and would like to change my mind. I have quite a lot I do like, so would like to return the favor. Have a good one.

  3. William I had a huge answer prepared but I somehow lost it all as I wasnt signed in! I'll write something later...cheers... Richard


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