It was strange weather for the time of year. There was no chance to store provisions for the winter Or make good repairs for the short cold days. There were pallid grey clouds hiding the sun. A warm wind shook the rhododendron bushes. Darkness fell and we thought it was time to sleep. Then the earth seemed to uproot itself Vomiting gravel and worms and dead roots And everything we had carefully planted. Weeds flew by their coat tails on lifted clods Landing clumsily, randomly, like overfed magpies. We patrolled our familiar boundaries, mad sentries Besieged on all sides by the sky’s artillery. After the storm came the unfamiliar rumble Of deep-throated birdsong and the distant glow Of something erupting on a far horizon. We hurried to a temporary shelter, and waited. Later the sun emerged from behind a new mountain. Then we saw the Virgin in a yellow shroud, With head bowed, speaking into her heart.
It rested like a tear upon the rim Of your sour frown, a blank grey eye observing A kingdom of fools: those who sought to win Your cold hand, but found themselves deserving Only your spite, your icy gaze, each word A laser aimed at every so-called friend. Then something froze in you, and nothing stirred Except your eyes that willed our lives to end. Now, in your stroke-bound silent cave, you wait For demigod or hero to arrive And break the spell, releasing all the hate And jealousy that keeps your heart alive. I see your old mute features full of fear. But rest in peace. Your Perseus is here.
You’re Never Alone With A Samsung
This is the guy in the next cell one of your captive audience speaking from within the walls where he has recently retired to spend some time in solitary where the south wall pounds to the generator throbbing and banshee thrash of guitars caressed by those giant lovers towering over the crowds and the orient streams images of a photoshopped sunrise red lava tumbling to the edge of my outstretched feet and oceans impossibly blue to the north I can see pictures beamed live from galaxies thirteen billion years old sitting at my right hand to be snuffed out by the remote as big bang and hand of god are seen in slow motion loops while the lava becomes an ice rink for murder victims resurrected as applicants for equity release I mute the tattooed inarticulate footballers and the pop stars with their post car crash makeovers as zombies in suits are misquoted by comically inaccurate subtitles I can blind hare-lipped children and fill their faces with flies or with a drone’s precision take out a terrorist or land a ball in the beer of a random sports fan and soon I will be my own host on a virtual desert island or advertise myself for myself with every tech tonic around me personalised to fit my environment I look to the west to a brand new innovation in home entertainment beyond these walls to an old world waiting for me to decide what I should do with it
Jeff Gallagher is from East Grinstead in Sussex. His poems have featured in publications such as Rialto, Shooter, Dreich, Littoral, The High Window and The Journal. He has had numerous plays for children performed nationwide. He was the winner of the Carr Webber Prize 2021. He has been a teacher of English and Latin. He also appeared in an Oscar-winning movie. He has no handles.