On the Mount

The Russian seer spoke from the heights
of ecstasy and transfiguration.
He found truth of strength in shame
exculpation in semblance of the Son
fairness in an equal brotherhood;
abjured violent ferment
pit of lovelessness
pain of primal discord;
preached Pity, Patience and Love’s dart
a path to Heaven in the heart.
Then across the river
in a green field
I saw a spotted bull


In the Theatre Pit                                                                   

The clarinettist smiled when he wasn’t playing.
He was smiling at the viola player.
She probably smiled too – she could smile even when she played
but with her back to me I could only see her smooth black hair.
Anyway, Nestroy’s bitter humour seemed incidental
against my imaginary exchange of smiles.



I saw a singer give out about broken love.
In his hand to amplify his cry
a microphone at his bristly chin
like a razor in the morning.
With gasps he clasped his aching heart
and worm-like writhed
as though some great foot had got him,
then paced the stage
sweating, like a Shaker in an ecstasy,
wet from hot lights
and the palpitations of his feinted dirge.
Mock-demon seemed to leer
at me and millions more
with shrieks of shattered nights
and desperate days spent in delirium.
In the same breath he stopped
stood up straight
and smiling took his bow.
But I sat there dumb and still
for my hurt-filled song was real.


The Moon Rising


The sphere appeared beyond a spiky pine
And I laid low with lunatic love
Wondered why on earth the moon should shine
so gloomily, if not to make dark thoughts darker.

The rising face laughed at me
And I with hard eyes and crying heart
Wondered why he should seem
so happy to see such a mad sadness.

He mounted and smirked at my still-born hope
And I, with an impulse to swallow, cut, or plunge,
Protested at the limp rope
shining necklace-like in the lunar shade.

And as I lay in shadow crestfallen and eclipsed
A tower bell rang out, music to my ears,
Rid me of my moonstruck fits
And I was left radiant as a rising sun.



I saw the car crossing too late,
crashed straight in
buckled the door
the driver unhurt.

The cars behind had stopped.
A man put his head in at my window.
“Someone got killed back there.
Sliced in two she was
– and you’re responsible”


The Gash

That morning you were happy
when Donne was my delight.
You jumped for proverbial joy
and smashed your head on cottage beam.
At the hospital they shaved and stitched you up.
Then Tolstoy became my mentor
and marked the end for us.


© Antony Johae