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Michael Wride

(December,5th 1968 / Wells, Somerset, England, UK)

The Canteen


At the old canteen at Signal Hill
Sitting on the wall staring out to sea
The gulls glide gracefully
Graciously soaring for me
In the updrafts above the cliffs

There is only the lonely distant sound of the sea
Of the waves crashing on the rocks way below

There is a dark, close, suffocating feeling here
A mournful stillness

I watch the dandelions moving to and fro
The breeze blows their seeds out to sea
An exercise in futility

There are lost souls here
Reaching out, but unable to fully break through to me
I feel them around me nevertheless
In eternal twilight they struggle for peace
They yearn for the eternal rest they are unable to receive

So long ago they sang their songs and drank their ale
So far from home
Within the walls, above these cliffs
As the ancestors of the same gulls rode the same winds outside

There is a darkness here
A mournful hollowness
Of heartbroken lovers
Of men lost at sea
Of drunken soldiers falling from cliffs
Of lost souls infused with sadness
Stifled by heavy snow
Frozen in the cold
Chilled in the ice-flows of time

The feeling is overwhelming
I can't stand it any longer
So I make to leave

Somehow I know that the songs of the sad men
Who died here so long ago
Will haunt these cliffs forever
For eternity

And mostly
Only they will know

Submitted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Edited: Sunday, December 22, 2013
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This poem was written at Signal Hill, St John's, Newfoundland, Canada, June 21,2009. Signal Hill overlooks the entrance to St John's Harbour. I felt the presence of those who had lived and died there. A feeling of homesickness deep in the pit of my stomach.

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