“The lamp will overheat unless turned off,”
A dimmed projection screen proclaims. Beneath
A slide announces “Conference of The Wise.”
The seats are empty; new, beneath the dust.
Outside, upon the grass, two tables stand.
The first holds urns of tea and coffee — cold;
The second cups, and plates in plastic wrap
(A turned-up corner leaks a whiff of rot).
A wall of weathered posters rings the yard.
One heading asks, “Mortality: a Choice?”
While elsewhere, “Fate and “Haste” alone hold out.
The rest is bleached-off ink and tattered chaff.
A fallen fragment twitches in the breeze.
“Beware,” it reads, “the minds that think of these.”
A force of love feared she was incomplete,
And sought, and caught a soul in tight embrace;
Lifted her darling from his mortal feet
And laid him gently in a web of lace.
The web was torn, and brighter than the Sun
Her eyes were lit with rage and righteous pain.
She sought the forts where slavery had begun
And taught their tyrants terror — but in vain.
Her sweetheart was not taken as a slave.
He had been mortal, and he had grown old;
Had seen her love would stretch him past the grave,
And chose to face a fate that he controlled.
Upon this secret, spend no further breath.
We dare not let her think to challenge death.
I don’t know what suggested you to me.
You were a ship, with pennants hoisted high,
And I, a droplet drifting in the sea.
I let you lead me. Now I wonder why.
In those lost days, you did not seem remote.
“This ship,” I said, “respects the little waves —
Rolls with their motion, like a lesser boat.”
But now it seems you saw us all as slaves.
The sea, I learn, is not allowed to choose
Which way the liner steams, but in its wake
Is caught, to follow as its captain deems.
My only choice: which tyrant’s path to take.
Some ships sink, when the sea leaves them alone.
You left the sea. Your fate now is your own.
Written before I knew the outcome of the election.
Beyond the castle juts a pier of stone.
Stand at its basalt peak. Let eyes drift down:
The swirling vapours hide a gulf unknown.
To this abyss, the old king threw the crown.
Those were the days of wealth, and distant war,
But choices still were hard, and rule was pain.
The weary monarch cried at last “No more!”,
Fled duty and the throne, and joined the slain.
But now the war has reached these ancient walls.
The keep is held — by squabbling, shattered men.
Three blood-stained generals eye the royal halls.
Where father leaped, now daughter climbs again.
Above the stones, her parachute spreads wide …
The gates behind her crack; foes storm inside.
The echoes fade, and all the world is still.
The blood of dragons smoulders in the dust.
Like a stray star, a single angel’s quill
floats slowly down, gliding from gust to gust.
A thunderous sunset finally hides its glow
behind a cracked horizon. All is black.
A dry leaf rustles. Quiet chitters grow
And furtively, the noise of night comes back.
A faint flame flares. A lantern springs to life.
Dew glistens on cold hands and empty eyes.
Light plays on shields and faces raw with strife;
What names and goals they had, this field denies.
The light is snuffed. The quiet footsteps fade.
From this destruction, nothing shall be made.
This one weird trick's enough to bring you wealth;
But minds beyond the bounds of mortal ken
Its weirdness calls — a scent as sweet to them
As rotting flesh, to flies that plunder health.
The bankers hate it — have done since the Change.
When first they found this boundless well of gold,
They funded firms, to pump all they could hold,
And stained their souls forever with the Strange.
The madness struck before they knew its name,
And bathed the empires they'd built in blood.
The outcasts, and the young, escaped the flood
To face the horror that their kin became.
The well is sealed, but nothing cleans the stain.
Those souls will break, if it flows free again.
What else is power for, except to fall
And warp the natural order to my will?
From lakes I'd make a moat; from stones a wall.
Hearts, chain with love and hate, to hold them still.
What else are words, except a way to lie?
I name the need, then think the deed is done;
I call my half-attempted work a "try",
Then ask for hands to hold the tools I shun.
What else is choice, except excuse for pain?
"Here sacrifice yourself, and win renown!"
"Turn back? You'll fade. Go on? You'll strive in vain."
"Choose which to lose: your heart, or head, or crown."
What else is life, except continued breath?
It's only everything that isn't death.