Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.
Greenwich Mean Time
that day south of the river
he walked, or was it I who walked,
over the damp grass, past naked trees,
over the line and measure
of fleetfoot time;
another day it was drink
and awaking in the white room
with footprints, inexplicable,
distinct, stepping around
bloodstains on the ceiling;
this day, as on all days,
other footprints skirt the edge
of an unforgiving canyon, an abyss;
and if you stare long enough
it will stare back.
In the end, perhaps, we all end up
with the politics we deserve:
but there was somethink very strange
about these people, as if
for all their stalwart pride
and flashing eyes, hawklike eyes,
(often enhanced with charcoal)
there was something missing,
some essential human element
absent, just not there: they were
clever, charming and witty,
quick to anger and quick to sing,
emotional, happy and friendly,
but cold, cruel and treacherous.
Dangerous and attractive, no wonder
they have their history; how I miss
that fearful country, those people.
one of my childhood friends
walked into the sea, another
walked out of his mind, his
family prays for a safe return.
another went away to war
and when it was time to leave
the war came home with him,
it lives with him now in the night.
all the "ills this flesh is heir to",
diseases, conflicts, accidents:
I watch them make steady
inroads, erasing names I knew.
yet this life can be no different,
(reason and religion teach us)
alike in all but detail, we share
in its grim but glorious mystery.
(but from the loss of a child
there is no recovery.)
yesterday, today, tomorrow,
beady-eyed, coldly glistening,
a dark uncoiling presence
lives, unwelcome, in my heart.