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Go ask them, discreetly, down time-tattered Broad Street,
The beer-bellied brawlers, the slinky night-crawlers,
The lost and the lonely, the heart-rent, the homeless,
The pimps and the pushers, the hobos and hookers,
The old men who ogle the girls who invoke all
The spells of spent Venus (modern Miss Demeanour):
What now of the land where your dreams drank youth kissing?
That Xhembala, Eden, Atlantis, gone missing,
A relic of myth – if forewarned is forewishing,
Then paradise faded when thoughts became jaded.

The future that's waiting is past contemplating,
A clown with false face on; it's just speculation
Which painted expression reveals the next session's
Ex-person reflection, unseasoned connection
Of cause and effect, tricks of truth's dialectic
Ignored by the detail of balance, in time-scales
Absurdly devised by some sad statistician
Who thought that he understood social conditions.
He'd better have searched for a shamrock to wish on,
For when this is over we'll all be in clover.

Chaste but not wan.

Shall sinners be chastened while saints are displaced on
The long queue to Heaven? The bread is unleavened,
The wine soured with age, and the priest's touch, contagion;
In unwritten letters, the masses wrought better.
We once span a story of pride and vainglory,
But, cheeks taut and empty, disproved boasts resentfully
Echoed in caverns of stillness and silence –
So sudden the stillness that slipped down inside us –
'Til woman and man, as their own lonely islands,
Grain upon grain, were eroded by nature,

Chaste but not wan.
house-post carving
the lemon-seller
photos: Stephen Alsford
lonely island

Created: November 17, 2014 Last modified: August 10, 2016. © Stephen Alsford