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TO THOSE WHO SHALL HAVE COME BEFORE

Is this the story of my life?
Words have I heard, again the sullen voice
Of statesman speech, or magazine dream
Of lighter hue, yet no less filled with lies;
Once more th'estate of mind that knows
No conscious, nor no waking thoughts,
That sense of sentence sweeps in waves
Of flowing, sleepful, unresisting bent
To meet the Maker's will or,
If you will, whim – I know not which,
Nor is it mine to question: I unresist.

Grappling with shadows, progeny
Not of the moon, of no celestial lamp,
Creatures of cloud, unnamed chameleon kin
Lacking persona, faceless features swim
In beds of sand swirled by the eddying flood;
Onwards the swell, I hear its liquid laughter
Tell of tentacles ten thousand-fold
That wait to seize the stranger's Self.
Where souls of wanderers seeming aimless glide
Into the traps untimely, there deploy I, masked
In perfect deliberation, sacrificial feet.

Now to you spectres, shall-have-comes,
Now O' you ghosts, you distant futures gone,
Passenger time beyond the dismal grasp
Passing like echoes in a mist,
Evasion your medium, intangible bliss;
You of my audience, you of my design,
You my reflection, though follow I tunnels
Blindly, nihil novus est, the pathway winds,
But on a pre-determined and familiar course –
Truth's fancy false to twist its corporal form
Beyond all recognition: memory distorts.

I find this meaning in the morning too
When choirs of song-birds serenade the dawn,
If, hid behind the curtain, sound is dulled –
As every sense emergent from a changeling world,
Now far off, now approaching yet again
But thwarted by the e'er-reviving flesh,
Fades as a tide dragged out to sea,
Or drowning man who clutches air
To seek a ladder where no open staircase
Beckons, and frustrated slips into a watery peace;
This, the reverse: no more by stifling sleep enslaved.

Sometimes this magic feeling comes,
Sometimes a spell, approaching unforeseen,
Glimmers in starlight, carried between
Sleeping and waking – ripples of lifeless time
Life's timeless pendulum creates.
Oh that this urge would let me rest
And not recall me from the yawning edge
Of night each time it deems to speak,
Weaves me a doom, so that I know not where
I lie, be it in sandman's lap or
Chaos' vasty pitted halls. Alas,

I drink a brew too heady, for
It casts to shore a drunkard corpse.
Enough! I'll toll the vespers bell:
Come all to hell, come taste with me
Fermented words, with wine of brine
Sodden the parrot priest repeats his prayers,
Chants "media lucte in nocte sumus".
Well might he know, for at the fable's end
World yields to unworldly mind, conscience fades
Into unconsciousness, whilst the reaper's spade
Digs, in the sea-floor, beds for slaves.
(1979)
ripples of lifeless time
photo: Stephen Alsford

Created: November 17, 2014. © Stephen Alsford, 2014