Phillip Priest

January 24, 1958-Franklin
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...undone, so many


and I step out

into the cold world

and it’s abrasive sun.

as I walk through the heat-thickened air

I become aware

that my bones feel

dry and warped.

My skin is peeling,

and my clothes are patched.

this house is falling in on me.

With dream

I may have thought I pushed you far away

but, Death

you are closer than the

thought of you.

I left the world,

and slammed the door shut behind me

as if to seal it tight.

I shed,

with my coat,

the memory of the World.

Here I am alone

out of reach

of the all too human hand of love,

and those who would

steal from every pocket of my sympathies.

I cannot move to

the rhythm of these Times,

and thinking of those the World spins

I am glad I have

retired from the floor,

for when great things and low things

are made equal-

everything is acceptable.

The world and I part ways.

Each day steps us down.

Through grey rain of Autumn evenings,

and footfall of leaves.

Sit in darkness upon the cold step

of deep Winter,

surrounded by mist and snow,

staring at a stark tree

wanting it to bud.

I look up

Moon empty night,

a field of untamed stars

that shiver in the wind.

I am in Winter poverty.

Cold leeches warmth

through a hole in my pants

and rigidity

sets in my bones.

Sun, remember us soon.

We were greedy to know.

All those mysterious books

we thought we understood.

We wanted to unmask it all,

to find a torn corner

and rip away the fabric

of the reality

we were becoming bored of.

So, we syphoned off the darkness

of the night

and drank it.

We uncovered-

an infernal black machine,

sweating oil.

We misunderstood,

and suffered.

Condemned to darkness as the Damned.

I ran down to the waters

and viewed my reflection

floating there,

lulling me.

something disturbed the waters.

My face,

and with it, the World

broke, and floated away.

Meaning slipped from things,

and everything lost coherence.

It will take a long time

to knit it back together again.

So I turned,

cloaked in Winter night,

and roamed it's domain,

brooding like a tall hunched Napoleon

whose conquered World

had been snatched back from him.

I walked the streets

like corridors

wanting to find a home

in all the warm houses with lights on.

Many years later

I was standing at the edge of the water

once again,

in a fine rain.

We broke so many things

that did not need to be broken,

ourselves most of all.

and who remains

and who have we lost?

Who fell down and never got back up,

and is now but surviving in a room

out the back of Life,

lying upon their bed-

a heap of dust.

Man is owned by his possessions.

Unawares he but walks the confines of

the prison his possessions measure,

upon an Earth given freely.

An orphan of the Moon,

imprisoned by his own hand.

He has little regard for his soul

that opens the way to freedom.

He believes he is who he repeatedly thinks he is

and is deaf to the empty core.

I do it again,

presume possible heavens

from an improbable

existent Heaven

with a mind incapable

of cupping Infinity

and a watch going round in circles,

while beside me

the running river


as if its laughing at me.

If I could but remove myself

from the mundanity of it all,

that my senses repeat daily,

perhaps the mystery

of my actually existing

would once again,

as at childhood,

embrace me

and walk me

to the road

that rises up into


blue infinity.

This pursuit

through word

of the Silence,

this moving unto the Stillness,

this use of passing things

to capture a passing image

that might,

for a passing moment

reflect a little of the Divine,

is it at all worthwhile?

No... well, not so far.

There is no money in it,

that the world adores

and spins- a coin,


and Heaven itself is miserly.

I should have retired from Life

into the safety of a well-paid job.

I do not need to look behind me

for I know I am not being followed.

Why should the millions bother

when the way offers only hardship

with no certainty of attainment.


it just might be that Mankind

has not as yet even

reached the foot of the stairwell.



Coming home

carrying shopping-bags.

She stops to rest at a bus-stop.

The late afternoon sun's light

exposes an emptiness.

The week behind

falls flat,

without a sigh.

Her shopping-bags are

heavy and full

of empty things

that just a moment before

she thought

were packed with

necessary items.

All the things this hungry city

screams that she needs

from walls and billboards

are hollow fruit-

they fail to satiate the deeper need

that gnaws at her.

She is burdened with emptiness.

She looks back.

A web of rail and roads

leads to the centre

of the greedy city.

By this failing light

it is an endless carnival

and these the show-bags she has bought.

She is loyal to the perpetuation

of the myth of progress.

She looks at the advertisements

surrounding her.

They take everything good

and water it down to sell

to people like me.

She rises and starts home

to prepare for the new week

already rising.


one day,

she will move to the country.

She heads west.

From it's sleep slowly awakes

her soul-

a breeze at night

drifting eastward.

The people of the sun

live on the coast,

do what they want to do

and know no doubt.

Many are,

many will be

and many have been

and they know who they must know

for they are all

aggressively sure of themselves

and their dreams are real.


though mild

is an inconvenience

making them chase the sun


Their suntans look as though

they have rubbed themselves with gold.

It matters little

who they partner with

for Love is democratic.


they offhandedly

inject things,

and the world just shrugs

one of them off it

from time to time.

A topic of conversation,

for a short while,

and on the table

in a bowl

their white confidence.

At night they seem to wander

from one high-rise apartment

to another

without coming down to the street.

A former one

came and stood beside me

and told me his story.

he had walked out

onto the balcony

feeling strange

to have a cigarette

he looked down

and fell.

He fell right through

the pavement

down through the Earth's crust

and into the molten core.

He is still smouldering.

Many are the layers of dark shadows

that the years shroud us in.

I have been cultured by Autumn

for Winter's sake.

Sometimes when I smoke,

I feel like a pile of burning leaves.
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