Longlisted Poem 2012

Christopher Cooksley

The Royal Grammar School, Guildford, Surrey


Mother why
do my feet feel cold and the earth
so dry?
I dreamt a birthday, dreamed
that it was mine. You
were there and your hair
smelt like rain
and the scent sung a stream through candles
and smoke, twisted and broke with the pain
like a wave on the breath
that I gave.
I awoke and felt I
was saved.

I cannot hear the whistling wind, the whistle
of the wind. Even the thunder is silent tonight.
Wake: the sky erodes us. Where can we go?

I tried to find you, Father,
buried in the laughter of a silent Sun.
Blind man, I have wandered
through our streets defiled to the deserts of our dust,
clawing at your casket crust.
Rust is the mould that screams
our stewardship of iron. Dry,
the streams that saw us weep
for Zion.
End this voyage: it is not
on water that I drown.

I have seen the end: have you
no words, no commandments, no songs?

You, brother, showed me fire,
taught how bleakly winter
burns. You, brother,
earned this tether,
shadows pressed forever
to this red rock. Here
there is no water.

Let fall your horrible pleasure.

I have seen the end and it is red. Stolen
and it warmed us, fed
with fluid black the spires of iron and lead.
Higher they fled and redder
we’ve bled in the ash of the pyres
we spread to the sky till we tire and shed
dry tears into the fire, man

Then falls the rain instead.
© Christopher Cooksley

Project Details

  • Date February 6, 2015
  • Tags 2012 Voyages - Longlisted Poems