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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
Opus, R J Dent's poem about spiritual death and rebirth.

Submitted: April 09, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 09, 2016




by R J Dent



You can read everything written by the great ones

and commit their words to memory –


Use a secret alphabet that only a select few

will recognise as their own –


Set fire to your hands and searingly etch

your lines onto the communal retina –


Sail through the catacombs of the subconscious

in a Viking longship and fetch

back bales of treasure for your people

– whoever they might be –


Scan the proverbs tattooed deep on the walls

of a magpie’s heart, knowing

they are written in experience’s ink –


Unwind spools of useless magnetic tape

and let them play in streamers

on the warm south wind –


Chisel out faces in an obsidian wall,

gag them to stop them screaming,

but always give them water once a week –


Give the dead child within you a decent burial,

then perform an elaborate ritual

so that it returns to life –


Plug your electric guitar into a waterfall,

then notate and record the new music you make –


Kiss the soft silken petals of a rose,

inhaling its heady fragrance

as it gently spreads and opens

at the ministrations of your tongue –


Fly from star to star, drinking the cobalt sky,

then crash to the ground after realising

you are an earth-bound misfit

with snapped-off wings –


Draw maps, charts, graphs, diagrams, plans

of your internal landscape,

then explore it carefully,

making detailed notes as you travel –


Hear songs that remind you of past times

of great joy, pain, pleasure and fear

of love, life and death –


Walk along the beach, listening to the waves,

the shingle, the wind and the gulls talking

incessantly in their own language –


Tunnel underground and race along just below

the surface, eating all of the subterranean

spices that you find in your path –


Fly a kite in an electrical storm

and let the charge flow shrieking down the string

and through your twitching puppet body

into the damp ground –


Invent a palate of brand new colours

and give each one a simple name –


Carve exquisite symbols in a vast expanse of white sand

then watch the turquoise sea wash them all away

before it patiently waits for you

to carve them again –


Pull a screaming mandrake from the ground by moonlight,

plug your ears to mute the screams,

cut it into many pieces,

make shapes with the pieces,

then eat its heart –


Tell all of your relatives

you once tasted human flesh

under duress

and that you’d do it again

given the chance –


Become a singer in a band so that you can spit ennui,

vent spleen and be as vituperative as you wish

at anyone you choose

and be paid for it –


Form a new religion, the sacrament of which

is to gather at a crossroads on a Sunday night

and vomit collectively –


Force-feed ground and broken glass to the singer

so he can never sing

about knowing the horses again –


Know that any art form that begins to use

themes of metamorphoses is an art form

that is in trouble –


Know that any troubled art form

is one which will produce great art –


Refuse to know anything

and refuse to know nothing

and refuse to stay neutral –


Wear a blindfold, ear-plugs, gag, handcuffs, leg braces,

a one-piece protective suit, a lead-lined box –


Allow yourself to be buried deep deep deep down

far below the surface of the lowest depths

in an underground vault –


Stay in your earth-coated solitude for aeons –

stay there… stay… stay… remain –


Pull yourself out of the rock you’ve been asleep in

for most of your life

and stand up

shake yourself loose

and look around you

and then take your first step…






Copyright © R J Dent (2016)


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