January Poem


The brain of the childGorgio de Chirico, 1914

The brain of the child


V, have you grown old, flabby,

skin as grey as Poirot’s

brain cells, eyes closed against

the railway black inevitability of

the year of your creation?


1914 – inscribe that in your book,

or close the curtain on it.

But you cannot,

because this is the moment

after the first gun fired,

before the primed shell landed.

In a last drop of silence

the drapes have amassed

doric solidity,

station clocks are stopped,

democracy coagulates as mud.


Your mind empty

as an unglazed room,

you wish to hold back

from reality’s maroon stain.

Yet the thump of ordnance

will shock your arm into lividity,

brushing the book

from closure to vacancy.


There you will see blank leaves

fill up with burnt haste,

a catalogue of halted generation,

names cast down in ink

as red as the serpent’s tongue

that flickers through night shaded pages.


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