Paul Steffan Jones 2016


 

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Song of David

2017-03-08
By: Paul Steffan Jones2
Posted in: Poetry

There used to be giants

nimbly rolling the rocks

around the known landscape

to cap water spirals

the people used to be giants

now they were not

or so they thought

though suspicious of Rome

they went about unarmoured

along forest tracks that led back to them

they strained to hear the bells

of the sixteen wall towns

of the kingdom they were told lay

under the shallow bay

they believed though no sound came

save the mourning of gulls

and the collapse of waves

he took his first steps and was injured

his father and his uncle

battled against snow to get his face sewn up

but a crucifix injected itself into his arteries

and travelled those routes for many years

forcing him out of shape

to grow tall and crooked

trying to sink into his shoulders

as his mother had done at that age

the shadow of smoke

he recalled Jesus

how gentle he’d seemed

the women loved him

still he couldn’t understand why they did that to him

he was obliged to follow the old religion

though more drawn to Hell

he looked like the Turin Shroud when asleep

he kept telling them he was dead


in a country with a higher number

of castles than any other

he played at the cottage of his great grandmother

and the motte and bailey castle

next door after which it was named

the comfort of grass and a six hundred year gap

and discovering gooseberries for the first time

both his grandfathers died at the wheels of their cars

without a mark in almost inexplicable accidents

when this curse outlived its usefulness

he would learn to drive

in order to get out of this valley

where everything was washed down slopes

into the river into the sea into the ocean

into rain back to this place again

TV was new wall-to-wall war every night

Vietnam and Ulster

and the offerings of producers

who had survived the “last” war

he in turn re-enacted liberation

and freedom fighting with comrades

and guns left over from the resolved

and unresolved conflicts

of previous generations

providing ammunition

for their imagination

he put knives in his pockets

his belt his eyes

to steady his nerves

to ward off his father

whom he had exceeded in height

he was not taught the story of his country

but guessed at its events

and found that his broad accent

was nothing to be embarrassed about


he spoke two languages

but wanted to renounce one

until he learned to love it again

to revere his birthplace for what it was

and not dismiss it for what it wasn’t

at the beginning of the space age

his parents acquired labour-saving devices

that helped them in their daily chores

and in the raising of their children

but these machines took over their time

and sucked out the soul of family life

they looked after a chapel

next to their home

the silhouettes of tombstones

dancing around his bedroom walls

illuminated by car headlights

the new people arrived

they had always been there

but now seemed to be everywhere

speaking the language his tribe had absorbed

they took over abandoned farms and chapels

and the leaderships of some of the hundreds

the inflexions and drive of a different gang

he pretended he was like them

but in the uncertainty of changing North Atlantic culture

his tongue fumbled some of the old words

in their unfolding

in the summer he slept with windows open

in the mistaken benevolence of electric light

beyond which night creatures

exhaled their excited air

and burned empty homes

he grew into song

into words and deeds

his chewing gum grin

glossing over his mistrust in his seed

until the egg begged

now the blood of princes runs through him

carries him shoulder high to computer-enhanced

mountains blue with rain

where they do not overwinter sheep

the blood of princes runs him through

...

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