Will Stone

Four Poems by Will Stone

Will Stone

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Fire

All is prepared for your first meal…
Shrew-like the scout flame emerges,
then taken in the talons of a draught
is lifted through the kindling to trace
the last gestures of men who died unjustly.
Your first silence is all the meat
stripped from the bone of a shriek,
stripped by your razor teeth.
You start to grow, to seed, to seek
the insanity each generation picks over,
to lick the flower strewn hearse or stare
through the died-back foliage of history.
You thrust your face towards the sun’s
and shoot black leaf upwards
to unsettle the pride of a blue sky.

The looting of cinders, brawling sparks,
your foot soldiers are always seen
sprinting away with the colours.
In the pocket of life, in the pay of death
you wolf leap onto a trussed heretic,
tear a priest from his hole, conjure to ash
the child who hid in the confession box.
You turn a mass grave into a benign copse,
leaving fields of lupins that must bloom.
So gently you play with the child’s eyes,
reward this trusting face at the hearth
then settle like a cat and blink.

You fool them all and everything alive
must eventually cross your path.
I have never known you not to perform,
to play, to spin down the fish of a heart.
Then suddenly, so cleanly you are gone
and the irritable unfed air probes
the carbonised stumps, the gutted hall.
New plants push through, like laughter
and now drowning in the shallows
bled white in the fire breaks, you die
without an heir, where the firs
now jostle their dark prows
and lower their sails of rain.


Entertaining the Unconscious

Stable, on the drip of soaps, crime
and period costume dramas,
the many too many recover from life.
Screens flicker on a billion eyes
as the iceberg suddenly breaks away
and nudges awake the ocean.
Each tries to remain on the floe,
but the many too many slide like seals
into the dark ice holes of history,
or live to weave a profligate angst
the future contentedly selects like fruit.
And the dead, they watch it all by satellite
huddled in their grave clothes, in
old air raid shelters, in musty sepulchres
and they stretch out a bony claw
as they recognise themselves
as they once were, back when
they were a mighty sail filled
with the stiff breeze of events,
when they had eyes instead of empty
wells, where now only insects come
to sink their pails and draw their
brief existence.


State of the Art Emptiness 

Explain me the emptiness
they consume behind the façade.
They enter imagining this show
was what they visited as a child.
Trick or treat, trick or treat…
the most subtle dismemberments,
the old texture, nobility of asset
ripped out and replaced, unveiled,
the exact replica they ordered on line,
the always obedient race
And they do not know…the past
have been inoculated against
the endangered germ of chance, so
atmospheres, like old steam engines
rust in weed cradled sidings.
They will never move again.
The railwayman who patted their boiler
is only an entry fifty pages back
in the black book of a crematorium.
They say we must move on.
Who are these new breeds?
What is their source?
Why have they shamed the interred?
and sewn their sham borders
of everlasting blooms, chorus line 
of prancing fools kicking in unison
to the political jazz rhythms of collapse.
Donkeys stand motionless in a line,
in memoriam for what’s gone
and wild dogs have cottoned on,
low slung, they pass into the grey zone
or recoil at the rear of cages, chains taut,
their eyes have seen, but speech
eludes them, these canine witnesses
indefinitely trapped, left to forage
on the dark slagheaps of the past
for a winking jewel, a fissure of light.


Verhaeren Vandalised

In the drained winter park
clusters of ill intentioned youth
swing from greasy boughs and spit.
Their forms are burdening the air
and they are persistent murderers.
Their stares are cold and wrong
and dead leaves run over the tarmac
in subservience before them.
It was they who took it out on the poet
Emile Verhaeren, whose bust now bears
their names sprayed over his.
A flat surface, ideal to impose
their nihilism, their sacks of organs
the earth must carry, marinated
with grotesquery, the overturned
barrow of Eden’s most fatal errors.
So now Verhaeren is desecrated
master of Rilke, Europe’s Whitman
unrecognised, unknown, unwelcome
in the land he loved with a passion.
Now the Muslim women’s dark eyes
flash through the slits of their veil.
They cast a glance as they pass.
‘Madame, c’est un grand poète belge!’
I try, but they see only a loner flailing
and gathering in their robes and broods
billow determinedly away.


Will Stone


Will Stone is a poet, essayist and literary translator. His first poetry collection Glaciation (Salt, 2007), won the international Glen Dimplex Award for poetry in 2008. A second collection Drawing in Ash, was published by Salt in May 2011 to critical acclaim. A third collection The Sleepwalkers will be published in 2015. His translated works include a recent series of books for Hesperus Press, with translations of works by Maurice Betz, Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth. His recently published Emile Verhaeren Poems will be followed by Georges Rodenbach Poems in autumn 2014, both published by Arc Publications. Pushkin Press will publish his first English translation of Stefan Zweig’s essay on Montaigne in 2015 and an expanded collection of the poetry of Georg Trakl will appear with Seagull Books in 2016.