Phillip Priest

January 24, 1958-Franklin

Onset of Autumn

Still water,

burnt stump.

Flame rears,

Black swan.



Narrow,

moon-shallowed river of night

flowing through

the wide Summer land

soon it will rise

to leave us upon

cold, rain-swept



Lying on a couch

exhausted from Youth

they came to me.

They said something about

emptying a cup

to be filled.

I said I was already hollow

They just nodded.

I felt a need to go

to the wash basin

and scrub

my fingerprints,

that had stained all they had touched,

from my hands.

One night

contemplating

the meaning of snow

They came for me

and hung me

upside down

from a star.

As light flowed into me

and Earth's darkness

bled out

they talked about

a lineage of

royal blood of light.

But as more coins

slipped from my pockets

and I became poorer

I began to doubt it.




I was chasing after the World

when a strong gust hit my face.

I turned

and something caught my eye

I turned about

and by unusual light

I saw the day was darkness

and the City

but a cemetery.

I had no option

but to walk

through

a long stretch of Time

to reach Here and Now.

Along the way

I was waylaid

by desire and despair

and when

those days came to their end

I would be at the window

gazing at the sea,

that seems to surround my life,

and I would always notice

someone looking at their watch.

Yet still

by the Unusual light

I was still in the maze

of the Necropolis.



A streetlight in the rain drips light

into a pool beneath

It might mean something

but its too wet

to stand here thinking upon it.

I look at the road

winding up ahead.

Each streetlight

the sun of another day.


Doors open and close all over the World

all Day long

Arrivals and departures.

Lounges in hospitals and airports.

We are all watching each other passing by,

passing through,

passing away.

And between entrance and exit

who looks for the hidden door?


How can I climb over

this tall wall of night

crowded with pictures,

pricked out by stars,

that would persuade my desire?

As I look for a way to scale

a Light slices through

revealing

infinite depth to be

painted on fabric.


There is an old man of me,

sitting in a chair

in a room

where the blackness

of the night thickens

and he is expiring.

When deep tiredness overwhelms me

from the failure I sink into

at the sight of further obstacles

and Death seems the easier,

even logical, way.

It draws me close to him

and I feel his weariness

seeping into my bones.



No wide blue sky.

A low ceiling of grey clouds

dull the day,

and blunt the imagination.

A house of Winter encloses

us within walls of rain.

Close the windows

and doors

and keep some Summer air

locked inside


They came for me again.

They took me to a field

and tied me to the ground.

I was of the Earth

for a thousand years.

So many seasons rolled over me.

I remember many things:

Every Spring,

gold-tipped lances of wheat

pierced through me.

There were Summers

when long hot days

stretched me till I cracked

and thirsted for the relief of rain.

there were Winters when

flood waters drowned me.

I remember

my burials in snow.

I remember giving much

fruitful bounty

but

then I would starve to a depriving desert.

Often children would play

and lovers roll in my grass.

There were Winters like war

and War like winter-

Men in uniform swept through like

a scythe

leaving

nothing but ruin

blood

and corpses in the mud.

One standing there

yelled out

"If this is the cost

the price is too high!"

His words were loud

and echoed awhile

but, eventually faded,

for Men,

unfortunately,

grow fatuous on peace.

I remember

seams of the earth splitting open

and flowers

flowing forth.

There were heavy cities built upon my chest,

fires that raged across my fields,

men who punctured my skin with flags.


By the Moon,

I see no darkness in the night.

No wild dogs of mine

lurk in the shadows.

Mindful,

I walk without fear.



Look at them

following the sleepwalker

who is stuck

in a dream of awakening.

When he awakes

they will

all be lost together

in a dark forest.


My dreams of tomorrow

are bigger

than that day is long

but they evaporate

leaving no scars

unlike

when young

and fragile

then the sky of my mind

was crowded with

multi-coloured,

glass flying machines

and when those dreams

crashed

the shards cut deep-

tears and darkness spilled,

from the disillusioned boy.


My Mother kept a warm house

and my Father

kept an eye on the clock.

But the walls that made

this house a home-

my parents,

have fallen.

I put down my pen and rise.

I went out walking

dressed in blue.

I stopped by a white-washed wall

and the golden sun pinned me there.

For a moment

I wanted to be there forever,

as if in a photograph

for there was in that moment

something eternal

but Time robbed me of this feeling

once more.

Then my road turned into a river

and it's swift flow robbed me of my clothing

and all I possessed

then began to tug at my flesh.

Is everything taken?

What can I be

that will not die?

What can I give

that will survive?

Yet more.

I see myself

lying anxious on the floor

of a house

with no walls,

with the weight of the night upon me.

I am depleted

of the courage and confidence

that I call my strength

I have no-one to lean upon.

Alone,

and my will-

my bone of fortitude

wrapped by a musculature of cold wind,

breaks.

All I can give you is that-

All is stolen from us by Death

for behind it's door

is our Real life

but the door is jammed,

and lightning begins

to pierce me.

How do I earn entry?



The electrical storm passes.

I walk outside.

Within the high dome of Night

all is still

and somewhat quiet.

There is always some traffic.


Mostly one can ignore one's Death

then, someone suddenly dies

and duty

sees you attend the funeral.

Someone-

you know who,

is watching me.

I feel uncomfortable under His scrutiny.

Questions about my life arise,

and always that particular

pin-pricking question upon which I squirm-

"What have you done?"
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