William Cook

Rookie (New Zealand)

The Edge Of The Night - Poem by William Cook

A table spread in a tomb, dinner for the dead
the dead! Why did you pay a visit to my eyes last night?

Night is the time for angels of dreams
we who, each of us, will one day return
to our hungry mother the grave. The darkness comes
from knowing nothing is ours, except death

takes bites out of my heart. O Asclepius pupil
teacher Chiron, please bring medicine
to my dead love, and I forever understudy
will attempt some sort of attainment

to wake with a sore splitting back from the cold floor
in borrowed clothes and eyes, lent by a saint
giving at the same time an encompassing embrace
‘Friend, ’ is all he said in tears, heart big enough to feed

this dead world. To wake up and see the sun
if not the glare from beyond, glittering
on broken glass, beside stretched roadside
where some had sprayed symbolic worlds and signs

scars full of flowers – to wake is to see
again this unusual world, whose secret cannot be known
until we enter the sky, or the earth
takes the edge off the night, the memory of your smile

II

Judging this town of sleep, I found it had already been judged
the Lord on his axe-cut cross of cypress
he is an incurable domestic bore
a family man, who never swore a word

an only child with a hollow mother
full with the carved cares of a household
wearing his poverty as a coat of arms
for eyes to look upon that beheld no bravura of vision.
The crisp grass rattles and shakes ripely, dryly
and all of this in fidelity to death
it was the same old same old, the hard husk of the ego
won’t ever resolve, yet grinds down hard internally

into the swirl, the wine bitter-soaked seed
labouring lie - vice is kindled, burned in loins that melt
peculiar smiles alive, of all hope
has gone to explore the forlorn desert all alone

far away from the security of grim towns
where a girl is safe searching numbly in the comfort of fear.
You have gone or strayed away, never to be found
I sit and hear sour hiss of traffic calling

this burned and gutted ghost, vague semblance of time
on and off like one long sick light-switch
electric dream/confused state of everyone
greedy for dead love, drain her life, her soul

from every side for me. Greatest dribbling cannibal
tired Bolshie future, sleep . . . with disease.

III

Torn in two, I stand between, the idol and the grave
I do not know anything, I do not know. I do not
of this world, know anything – nor do I want to
but I have misled the past and will do so again

bring the teachers to the fore, let them stand
and be accounted as emperors of their own disease
and demise. As the sky claps the earth - wrings blood
from all rocks and far away I fly, every day

from the storm in the brain. The science of the mind
corroded the body, blinded every mile I ever burnt
in this life and the next if there ever were such a thing.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, July 21, 2006

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 18, 2010


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