Inspired by your greatness, loyalty assured
I nailed my colours to your standard, marched
towards the promise of much better times.
Long days and many miles went by
foot sore and weary, always hopeful
for the new dawn.
You strode ahead, eyes fixed on far horizons
I followed willingly
but while I watched my step
mended my boots
tightened my belt
held the line
a sea change was afoot.
Now I raise my head and look around
so far from home, no map or compass
this unfamiliar place, soot-dark and grim
not where I should be
and though my feet still move
I seek a different path.
Goodbye my friend. I failed the test
for this far I have come, but no further
your proud forces pause at the gates of hell
and you go on, as you must, without me.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
It’s quiet, always. I miss birdsong more than almost anything else. Can’t be completely certain but I’m surely getting close now. There’s a salt tang in the air unlike the sour stench of the towns and the damp, gloomy forests – what’s left of them, anyway.
I hack and spit rusty bubbles beside tattered boots. Humans were made to move, but this slow trek is nothing like running and going nowhere for fun. Now I walk, escaping nowhere and carrying it within.
Rest is death.
Behind me, blasted trees stretch gaunt black limbs skyward, twisted and shrieking in the endless wind. My coat barely yields to the breeze, its fabric thick with secrets and stained with unbearable memories. There’s too much knowledge for one man to contain.
I should go on.
I settle on a fallen trunk and cough. Pain spikes hot in my chest.
Maybe we could never have proved ourselves worthy stewards of the universe when every call for caution was ignored, drowned by the triumphant roar of all the other wishes granted to man in his pursuit of mastery. The genie will never return to the bottle, because he exults in his freedom and terrible power to remake the world.
We were our own nemesis, and we refused to believe it. I look up, try to believe the sun still shines, high above the sullen clouds. If it has not forsaken us, why can I not feel it?
I hack and spit red. Red used to mean love. I could curl up here – find solace hidden between roots ripped from grieving earth – dream of all I have lost, and all that has been snatched away. I could rest.
Just a little further.
This desolate greying hill is the last, I’m certain. I will come to the sea, to the end and the beginning. My pack lies empty at my feet. The tighter I clutch my past, the faster it disintegrates in my hands.
What’s a man without a past? What’s a man without a future?
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, and quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
Above, only sullen nimbus grey.
My left hand grasps at shadows
right hand trapped by work’s iron fist
behind, a thousand tiny ties bound to the past
below, soul-sucking mud swallows every step
hateful reality burns down my dreams.
But you say, keep going
I’m doing great, so tell me
will I see the sun again
Even though casting off your bonds seems
and cutting ties that bind seems
you should not be afraid.
Shed the leaden coat of history
find your wounds, kiss them tenderly
you do not need to watch them any more.
Trace one finger over your map of ancient hurts
cast it into the forgiving sea
look out to new horizons.
For when your shackles break
when your handcuffs are dust in the wind
you will rise at last
on gossamer wings of hope’s new breath
spreading, beating, growing ever stronger
freed from those Lilliputian troubles
that were never yours.
So cut the cords
fly where the heart leads
and you will see at last
you were always meant for more.
We walked hard roads together
leaning on each other in bad times
laughing side by side in good times
we didn’t know our lines would run parallel
only for so long.
A tiny shift
a tiny space
the lines diverging
and I try
try to hold on
we are seen and we are known
we are something to each other
not easily found, I thought.
But since I set my compass to wider horizons
you dig at me with your discomfort
scratch me with your disapproval.
And I try
try to hold on
I will miss you too
your sarcasm and tears
your perspective and your fears
the way we huddled together for warmth
long into dark nights.
But with every angry jibe
the chasm grew, so
I placed you tenderly behind a shield of glass
raised for my own protection
seen, not felt
cry if you must
and don’t forget
I love you even as
you shrink in my rear view mirror.
I should be looking forward
and I try
try to hold on
time is the great separator.
Almost beyond touching distance
yet it still hurts.
I wish you well
There is a place where the sky is
amazingly, truly blue
always perfect summer
floral silk flutters in a warm breeze.
Tea and cake on elegant lawns. We watch
the world go by.
And in this place
the string quartet plays on
all worries fade to leave us
We float on half-heard conversations
skirt around the deep
drown in the shallows while our hearts
More cake? Yes please
this sponge is rather good.
And no amount of genteel words can fill
the gaps and missing parts
but yes, a fine day, a fine day indeed, yes
I heard, it’s such wonderful news.
Lips moving, tasting, swallowing
a full portion
of nothing at all.