Craig Dobson has had prose and poetry published in magazines in the UK, US, Europe and Asia. Though he lives and works in the UK, he’s often visited the Mediterranean and it runs as a theme through much of his work.
They say Achilles passed this way,
blood on his mind, the death of love.
None could stand before him,
his footprints sown with ghosts.
It wasn’t his immortal armour
severing so many threads,
nor the peerless skill and limbs
of bronze wielding his savage
unparalleled absence of fear;
nor even that scorn
chaining Thetis’s vengeful boy
to the pitiless dust of Troy;
but what he saw in the eyes
of those he tore from glory’s sun –
each one a deathless prophecy he bore
to the iron-hearted end of his days.
At a Window in Provence
The heraldry of birds. Footless
shadows tarantella in the dust.
Cicadas stitch the still heat
to the chronikers of their call.
In his Versailles sky: the king
whose eye we cannot meet,
whose stare comes through
to where we lie in skins
of fire, whispering:
Before that… before that… anything.
The Mythical Museum
‘not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate’ Keats
I could read how much more I’d need on every face.
Incommunicably distant, the gods ignored my prayers
that no hero answered, nor any of their warriors.
The stricken, ever-dying, and those already walking
the eternal ways, proffered only doomed advice or shades of pity.
Athletes in their naked prime saw prizes more precious than my eyes.
Garlanded newly-weds and other limb-bound lovers
on lust-wound beds I left to Aphrodite and themselves.
Priestly blades bled blind eternity over greedy altars.
Witches and wild women tore through the men they bore.
Actors froze behind masks and politicians in mid-speech.
Musicians were cheered by silent lyres while sofa-borne
drunks offered little but a feast of leers. Curious children
peeped from never-to-be games as their parents –
potters, farmers, swineherds, fishermen and slaves –
barely looked up from the timelessness of toil.
In the end, on a shard from a crude jar of olive oil,
I mistook a crouching, half-obscured beggar’s hand
for sympathetic attitude. Initially unwilling to entertain
my suggestion, millennia of deprivation decided him.
For this crumb of notice I’ll sail with you, call you Captain.
Free me from the scrounging clay, let my image, fed and clothed,
rise and walk abroad, and all my days shall be yours.
So began the manning. Each cabinet revealed another –
any age, race, class and state – a nation of the marginalised,
impoverished, exiled or ignored. Each anteroom yielded more,
a dragon’s jaw of failures I sowed into my future.
Passing wrecks raised from the storms of time,
and ruins guarding the thrones and precious wares
of fragile civilization, we came to countless tablets
inscribed with legends – vessels of the treasured fame
our wondering mortality’s race imbibes. Across each
indented face a lineage immortalised the vague urge
I’d brought with me to that hallowed repository,
and now took away blessed with a need-become-quest.
Freed at last from pots and pans, my wanting company
could weave the word-led ways, searching for the fleece of life.
Tramp steaming this ragged-banked old Argo through
its dreams once more, it could follow the sun beyond ocean
and the song beyond reason, bound for deathless shores.
Poetry in this post: © Craig Dobson
Published with the permission of Craig Dobson