Recently Anthony Servante reviewed some of my poetry on his thought-provoking blog, Servante of Darkness: Horror, SF, and Noir. Words & Sounds for the Living. Here is an abridged version of the post, the full version can be found at the link above including features/reviews on other writers like Michael H. Hanson and Mark McLaughlin.
Follow William on Twitter - @williamcook666
Lest We Forget
By William Cook
We forgot the death-white burden
that lay curled explodingly
on the flat line between here and there
we forgot the gaping pit
of atmosphere that singed the soil
and us that burnt it there above
we forgot the airborne tumours
of ignorance and time that swells
beyond our grasping paws of greed
we forgot the twisting paths
of molecules denied of science
and therefore from our perception
we forgot our mortality
in the feast of fire and flood
as we wash our hands with famine
swill it down with cups of blood
and we forgot that which we taught
to all the objects of our need
that all that grows beyond its use
holds no measure we shall heed
from alpha to omega
we have joined our ends to end
we have bridged between the islands
drained all wells to poisoned sand
we forgot our search for new air
is subconscious flight for fear that
courage is the vice of dumb pride
that shakes and billows rage
in every new-found virgin sphere
and we forgot what it was we once loved
and whose back-yard we played and when
the string in the labyrinth would snap
and disappear in burning cloud of dissolving day
and finally we just simply forgot, because we could not remember
because we could not forget.
William Cook's poem, Lest We Forget, is a reminder to remember the things in life we choose to forget. But rather than give us a laundry list of events to consider, we get a sequence of metaphors at once recognizable but vague enough to work at a subliminal level. Consider the “death-white burden” that lays “explodingly” on a flat line. Subconsciously we think of an electrocardiogram as “death” and “flatline” (sic) parallel one another, except that it “explodes”, implying a spike, or a labored life, the “burden” mentioned in the line. Furthermore, besides forgetting “life”, we forgot about the ozone that we “burnt” a hole in, allowing ultraviolet light to pour through and “singe” the “soil” (earth). Although the metaphor is not vague, it advances the concept of our (mankind’s) ignorance, our choosing to progress (verb) even as progress (noun) depletes the future. The metaphors culminate with our choice to ignore this depletion and its resultant effects (“poisoned sand”, “dissolving day”, etc). Because William does not send this eco-nightmare message via a flyer or protest march, but rather via poetry, it manages to crawl under our skin and fester, like an ignored infection that threatens to swell to a boil. Cook does not let us off easy. He holds up a mirror to man’s amoral treatment of the future. It is no mistake that we, dear readers, are in the reflection.
Asylum - From the Asylum
By William Cook
Judgment engaged - time’s slave
slips whispers over the shoulder.
Love is the only one to never lie
those branding, burning words
that make the heart grumble
with the cold hands of the stranger’s dominion
presenting polarised arcs, of disparate monologue . . .
What the fuck . . . ?
The long day has only just begun
and still each evening winds it down.
Still the clock keeps cutting quarters
always gathering doubles,
for the Ark.
For the what . . . ?
Limbs as arrows, chains, and beds
supported the weighted chest with grief
and sometimes joy. Between
the islands we traverse . . .
Sounds like thighs . . .!
The vessel soaks the sun with journey
as we shed our Winter’s skin - floods
seem far away right now, yet still
the ever eye rings sight. Palladiums
of secrets - carried on caress
of hurried breeze. Kingdoms
of neighbours dissent, are all
of the same suburb on that plane!
Airplane . . . ?
The same beaches where we bathed
and gave away dead skin, now hold
invisible sacrificial rites - they were always
there, when we were. Still tumbling
birds of prey and pride wrestle
with serpents, under luminous boughs.
and we travel - turns and tides
between these magnets. Eternite
I’m feelin’ pulled both ways . . . !
sides, by side. The age of memory
sweeps shores and provides
such force - behind the oars.
The whip crack that attempts to tame
- tumultuous pump, that billows.
Sucking only air sometimes, like
this warm Etesian air. A cyclone gathers
waves, where earth and sky appear.
That means we’re all gonna die, right . . . ?
But more than that, which sinks beyond
- a secular line of sight and silver
crests the Sun’s slow decline. Dawn’s
ships will still run aground. Raising night.
Raising Cain . . .!
Back on land and back in pain
the movement can seem slow.
The raging current murmurs deep
and only serves to show . . .
The best way down, is to drown . . .
When the eye marries time to the heart’s
blind pull and the blood muscles, bones
of fingers. So cruel – to chaste and touch
with searing fire. They leave the trace
of journey’s charted scars
and the only soothing grace, it seems
- is the dam-burst flood,
of love’s lost dreams. Swimming
in that place between. Where
islands float and birds and serpents
silent scream - Esoteric psalms. At the Night
Or am I awake . . .?
Asylum - From the Asylum by William Cook deals with biblical promises hidden in half-truths and mythos, an unreachable ken that seems real only in dreams. The problem is: we wake up. The poem begins with “Judgment”, basically where the Bible (with a capital B) ends. Thus the world has ended, The Rapture has passed, The Horn of Gabriel has sounded, The Leviathan has risen, and The AntiChrist is about. It is time to those remaining on our good Earth to be sent to Heaven or Hell. “Love” (for God, for fellow Man?) will be our only truth, and that’s the scary part: Did I choose the right path for this love? Doubles (or couples) are being selected for the Ark, a symbol for those who will be saved (and always between stanzas, in italics, are the reminders that doubt may still be relevant), that this judgment is not real (after the mention of the “doubles for the Ark”, a disembodied voice asks, “For the what …?”). “Birds of prey” (sky) and serpents (earth), evils emerging from all directions, Heaven (God judging) and Hell (Satan creating doubt), create a religious tug-of-war: “I’m feelin’ pulled both ways …!” When doubt dissipates and faith begins to take hold, the “Esoteric psalms”, that is, confuses the nature of faith found in the bible (small “b”), for it is just a book; only with faith can we capitalize the “B”, but how do we acquire faith when doubt makes more sense? The answer becomes clear when it is too late: “At the Night” (capital “N”), and even then, Satan can still win if you believe the Day of Judgment is all a dream (“Or am I awake . . .?”). William Cook grapples with faith and doubt and refuses to offer easy comforts for his readers. And should you, dear readers, be inclined to choose a side, Cook will be there to “pull you both ways.”