Phillip Priest

January 24, 1958-Franklin
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Various Poems


and open flowers

scent the night

a shallow river

under the full moon.


The leaves that soaked up the sun

flare again

then fall

through sulking mist


frost-brittle grass


the days are small rain-drenched isles

and the cold uncovers our bones


Windows and doors open

to freshen musty houses

the warming sun calls


I hesitate on the threshold.

We were never so remarkable

as when we were children.

There a sense of light

gave us kinship with the stars

and all the Earth’s creatures.


Flesh awoke

and put the child to bed.

There’s trouble in the house.

One step,

just one step into the world

and the light goes out

The mountain,

Gripped by snow-

a frozen cresting wave.


and its shadow collapses

upon the town,

sweeping people home

followed by rain.

Bent old man

with a spray of white hair,

a wave

propped up on a stick,

staring into his shadow.

Our distant shore is always here.


in world-deserted hours

I try and map the universe.




Emanating from a Mind

no thought can imagine.

Can the hand of a wave

grasp the whole sea?

When a map I draw

I hold it up to the Night

and stars

pierce holes in it.

I can see clear to the horizon


no more than a moment ahead.

The clock of thought

keeps spinning around in consciousness

too clear to see.


just the loss of a thought away,

yet how deep,



and entrancing

each moment,

circling through firm,

unperturbable stillness.

Wake to find the mountain gone-

stolen by clouds.


late afternoon

with snow.


If you should go seeking

know that you make yourself

an enemy of the world

and it’s adherents.

Love will betray you

with every other man

and no matter if you turn

and stand provocative

by a streetlight

the long black limousine

that steals the light

to glamorize itself

will not stop to open its door for you

It cruises instead

for the beautiful orphans

and the handsome poor.

The crowning achievements

of people you once knew

will weigh heavy upon your

frequent depressions and despair.

Thieves and liars

will always find you

for something Dark and jealous has

dominance of this world.

Go at night

for in that blindness

you will see the truth of the world

and tread not heavy

for you have no license

to yell


to those who choose to sleep.

The sun dragged it’s

fading robe of light

across autumn fields.


husks of flames,

burned cold on the grass.

I step down narrowing days

to where rain is falling.

This wind tonight-

cold breath of snow

from the mountain,

it wraps the star-prickly night about me.

as I walk past

darkened houses

here and there

at this late hour

light leaks from closed curtains

Dreams in the heads of sleep.

We gather

to bury yet another friend

our travelling companion

A tree

Wrenched from the heart

too soon

always too soon

no matter the age.

How many more graves

will I step over

until I slip into my own?

Does this image echo?

A long line of refugees


trudging a road,

grasping tightly

what little possessions they can carry,

fleeing a burning city,


birds of prey,

circle above.

All the Time

all over the World



coming out of Egypt.

Despite opinions,

from appearance,

Death Lives within us.


if you would,

come to this black wall with me.

See, they are coating it with another


the black of the emptiness

that is limitless Space

and a shade of Forever.

Discarded around the bottom

of this tall wall

failed leaves,

broken glass,

and bones.

This dead boy here


threw himself at the wall

and broke.

You can still see the shattered

windows of his eyes.

It is Failure,

it is disappointment,

it is futility.

The vanities of you and I,

Great Cities,



and the very Universe itself,

roll to smash against this wall,


I did not ask you to follow me.

So why do I persist?

Have you not seen yourself

exposed in darkness

by the light

in a child’s eyes?

Seeing from behind the wall.

Waves hurl a cold breeze onto the shore.

I rise and leave

walking past

clothes left behind and crumbling sandcastles.

I am raw from rubbing myself

against the sun

I lie on the bed

warped and dry

feet dangling over the edge

I try to relax from being stretched

by a long day.

A burnt desert of the sun

waiting for rain.

Cold, bleached

late afternoon sky

Even the gold the clouds soak-up

feels chill.

The last of the light

hangs for a moment upon the horizon-

a rusting leaf,


sinks into the blackening mud.

I lie at night on the couch

distracted by noise and images

so that the rain outside is unheard.


All earthly generators break down.

The rain closes in

and I am empty

at the bottom of the deep night.

But then


I fill with the sound of rain

till I almost drown.

Too hot day

sure to burst into flames.

Down on the beach

stitches of light on the waters entice.


somewhere behind the dry hills

a fire has broken loose

and chases down the wildlife

to engulf

But the smoke rises lazily
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