Sunday, 11 December 2011

Humanity's Heir - Petrarchan sonnet

It started with the planting of a seed:
He ploughed her, tilled down into her rich loam.
After several weeks she knew her home
To have a third member: with child, they agreed.
They began preparations: changes decreed.
She didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, her body a throne -
A royal palace, an ivory dome.
But soon, water broken, she was due to conceive.

In labour for hours she pushed on through
Until she was born, their darling daughter.
But how queer! Her features were so unlike theirs,
Her nose was unlike, her eyes were too.
But for this they did not slight nor fault her:
World in miniature, she was humanity’s heir.

Pain - ghazal

Let me start by making the case plain:
life is full of constant pain.

An invisible tapestry stitched like rain
you feel its cool presence, the hand of pain:

we must go buy food again,
pay the bills and appease this pain.

And yet our masks paint us sane,
no other way to deal with pain;

turned away from ardour’s grain,
stork to stork, friends in pain:

secretly longing, mouthing consummation’s name,
barriers to body inflict their pain.

Wolves and sheep in a smoke haze
under scrutiny of spyglass pain,

consumed, consuming; dead and slain,
the world births us, we feel its pain.

But why should we hold this chain,
enchained in self-flagellating pain?

Its bonds are cool and it makes us lame.
O! how I long for the happy death of pain!

Yet often have I wondered of its self-shame.
Does it pity itself, agonise itself – pain?

If not through love then through bright fame
can that give restful peace to this wearied pain?


My huge skull a cage of curved teeth,
I shall have my fill, shred flesh.
I grind the bones of young and old, feast
deeply: a terrible lizard, it is said.

I stalk this swamp, smelling the air
for the stink of my prey or decaying flesh.
Clumsily, I trundle and comically scare:
my arms prongs, but a terrible jaw to impress.

The outlook for this evening is moderate to fair;
I love this temperate clime, it’s twilight now.
The blackness strung above me is an inky blare
pocked with a thousand dead eyes, rolled white, staring down.

But lo, something comes, approaching like a ghost.
The horizon is tipped with light, though not by the lantern of the Sun.
A seam of fire splits the sky, descending parasite to host,
though I am not quickened, too dumb to run.

Somewhere far ahead a lightshow erupts:
plumes of white light reign up, spirits, angels,
suspended far above for the sky to cup.
But soon they rain down in sharp deadly angles.

I dumbly twist my head from side to side:
all is noise and desperation, cries and flight.
And soon I hear a rumbling, a guttural cry -
like the bellows that come with my tender bite.

The noise increases, the horizon grows dark:
a grey wall of ash washes over the land;
shoulder to shoulder as myriad beasts in march,
a dark and infinite all-consuming hand.

As fire rains down, as stars fall from the sky,
I see a small furry creature scuttling to its hole.
I think, ‘I wouldn’t touch you with yours, why
do you run so with your puny bones and skull?’

As I look upon this creature, a vision flashes across my mind:
I see a small shape ascending a tree,
and after eons and ages of geological time
it descends again, larger, with an axe on its knee;

and mirrored in the approaching vortex of swirl,
whose hot breath seems to lap at my skin,
I see it writ, I am man: destroyer of worlds.
Then I’m taken into the obscure, dark wind.