The ship was safe and snug, on solid ground
With cosy chocks along the keel and bow.
A wrap of scaffolding and gantries ’round
And city power running up and down.
The engine block is in. She’s heavy now
Her gears and bearings tested, true, and round.
The paint on every inch of her is proud.
Pull out the chocks, and let the fog-horns sound!
It’s inches, but a mountain thunders free.
A blue mug on the slip-way — dust — debris!
The mass that moves, no human hand can stay.
The breakers waiting, break, and turn away
Under a keel sharp as Eternity
And might on might, the vessel meets the sea.
Roses as red as a heartbeat,
Tulips, as deep as wine
Forget-me-nots, those eyes that smiled!
But none of these are thine.
Golden, the glint of the morning,
Diamonds, our lives at last,
A moon, pearl-fished from the ocean,
For none of these I ask.
Bees about ’round the pumpkin,
Tomatoes climbing the corn,
You and I, in the garden
And parsley, left on the lawn.
How, in a hundred words, to sing their praise?
The force who face the plague from pole to pole
Who make our broken dreams a future, whole
Who free the lives the virus locked away.
How can I count their millions? Mending hands
That twice and more will take us by the arm
And teach our lungs to breathe, our blood to calm
To know, and scorn the pathogen’s commands.
How, summarise the fifteen billion acts
That finally cut the curve. The work, the woe
The hope and sacrifice behind the facts;
Between “vaccine” and “we are free to go”.
Leave history lab and leader, clown and crown.
When we are saved, it happens town by town.
Sir Simon was a hero with a sword,
Who gladly fought for glory, wealth and wine.
No gold, nor ruby dragon ever roared
That could defeat Sir Simon in his prime.
Von Argash was an undead lord of note,
For cruelly keeping slaves, known far too well.
Sir Simon cut his bony neck and throat,
And let his captives out of every cell.
Dame Eileen was a knight Sir Simon knew,
A monster-slayer, and his fiancée.
When next he greeted her, she ran him through.
Then met dead eyes. Then slandered night and day.
Von Argash cursed his killer, “Take my face.
Then face my foes, and suffer in my place.”
The Art is complex. Any single spell
Demands its own well-chosen stones and herbs.
Preparing these, as wizards once knew well,
Was boredom fit to strain the strongest nerves.
Great spells were wrought, to end this patient pain.
Now would-be wizards only need a bag.
You reach within, and ask in language plain
For gem or feather, leaf, or lump of slag.
No-one need wonder whence these tokens come.
But I was curious. I learned a charm
To find where any object’s path begun.
I swear that I was not intending harm!
The source I found: six sorted heaps in Hell.
Those dread gates crack again with every spell.
The spell component pouch has an interesting history in D&D.
Here’s to the days before the world was broken,
When foes came one by one, and none too strong!
Then Danger reigned, but Doom had not yet woken;
Then hope survived for peaceful lives and long.
Those loyal friends — they gave beyond all duty!
Here’s to the nights ’round campfire and table,
When pranks were played for laughter full and free!
Those songs segued to pleasant dreams and peaceful,
And in dawn’s clashing chorus, we’d agree.
Those lovers’ trysts — the last we knew of beauty!
Here’s to that hero’s era halcyon,
Before we fell too far, nor faced defeat.
Before the death, the torture, and temptation;
Before becoming what we tried to beat.
Who said the sun was life, and grace, and green?
That fire, so attractive from afar,
Burns fierce; and fiercer when from closer seen,
Blinds lying eyes, that hid what fools we are.
You melt beneath the pain of layers lorn
When light peels back your face, and then your skull.
To bare, beneath your bones, the words that warn:
“This ship rots from the captain, not the hull.”
An instant in that hot, actinic glare
Brings clarity monks vow their lives to learn,
Then terror at a broken world. Despair.
Then all is white,
And there is no return.
Ten years the iron tower stood alone,
To spew its smoke and ash and earthy waste,
Scour the fields and flocks to sand and bone,
And make a Stygian vale of this place.
Today the band of heroes broke their fast
On liquid courage, liver, pep, and grit;
Now they will strive within the pillar vast,
And leave in triumph; or fall seeking it.
In time a team will come to match the test,
Pass every pitfall thirty stories hold,
Enraged and tired, meet the building's best,
And still succeed.
Then metal will unfold:
A rose of steel, cut by a master's hand,
Shown to perfection in a ruined land.
I dreamed that writhing shadows wreathed a hall,
While celebration's song was heard within.
The lighted windows each in turn grew small,
As darkness piled up, then filled them in.
The music kept to perfect pitch and beat
While silence showed the screaming throats the knife.
The sheep and cows as one made their retreat,
And left the song the only sign of life.
The darkness rose, to snuff the stars, the moon,
And leave a world blanked out, but for the song.
I knew the sun would not be rising soon;
I knew the music would continue strong.
How long it held, and whether light returned,
I do not know. I woke before I learned.
Defeat shall not be mine, nor shall remorse;
No storm infernal matches my attack.
No heart is brave enough to keep on course,
And dare to match my terms, and turn me back.
I shall not tire. Neither fairs, nor ills
Shall once divert me from my purposed path.
Nor hope of peace, though every weakling wills
It, ever be enough to stay my wrath.
To speak my name, and "failure", is to lie;
To question this, is treachery itself.
For I have won, and even as I die
I shall remain the master of myself.
And on my tomb, they'll write for all to see:
"'Just one more turn', for all eternity".