The Poet’s Hand, the Fool’s Tongue

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


Say what you have seen with words
that we may understand
what moves the world in harmony
with the laws of transformation.
Say what you have seen
of those who are passing by the door
that is open, like a mouth
that sings of many heavens.

*

The wolves patrol the midnight streets,
keeping silence like a secret
that is the way to survive
the indifference of nature.
There may be a purpose found
when all that can be happens.
Until then there is the forest
where stealth is the watchword.

They see an old man’s madness
that summons the spirit of night
as the wolves reach the city limit.
The king and his daughters,
two of whom are treacherous,
are told in many tales
The fool is he who tells it well.

*

Snow falling in spring stills the world
that was listening for birdsong.
Flowers, bewildered, fail so see
the life they were promised underground.
For the poor the answer is written
in the tracks of barefoot children
returning home from a day’s labor.

The poet’s hand warms at the candle
as the light of his art fades.
If you seek his memorial
then read the life in words.
They were spoken in the fields of youth
before he found taverns to his taste.
Words have no season but always.

The Dog That Howled All Night

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


“What does not change is the will to change.”

– Charles Olson


Of a possible election:
then in the sight of darkness
a lantern light
moving to close of day
above all the armadillos
from the vantage tower
in celestial time chiming…

Of the harvest angel
scattering our marvels
at the sight of disaster
naming where the stones
keep silence on vacant ground
when fate may seem indifferent
though this life is familiar…

Of a lyrical persuasion:
invisible in the ruins
too late to save the spirit
that blessed the city opening
to the world’s worst
and in there hearing
the dog that howled all night…

Antigone: Of Revenge

A poem by Geoffrey Heptonstall


In all her urgency she ventured.
The world beyond the world she knew
was there for the curious kind.
And promises, so loosely bound,
dared to defy expectations
of the cautious claims
that had no right to her mind.
Considering every verity,
she heard what was to be
no more than evasion.

Hers was a truth transforming.
She spoke of restoration,
of changes to be made
in cartographies of the antique.
Moving by implication
into an audacious child,
so unusual in her need
to be undefined.
an available reality, she prayed
in the silence between storms.

Her zest was tempestuous fortune,
and so persuasive the means,
her qualifying mercy
of behaving badly
all for the good of all.


Geoffrey Heptonstall’s novel, Heaven’s Invention, is available in hardback and paperback from Black Wolf. He has recently had his writing published in Scarlet Leaf Review, The London Magazine, and The Global Dispatches.