"The Warwickshire Bible (family prayers before bedtime)"

Martin Corless-Smith


Loosen the reins-lasso
The roe deer runs to you
whether you lead or not
throughout the seas and hillside floods
all creatures breast the torrents
after their own kind. Whichever way
It is for you—and holy criminals
devote to gods unsettled from their thrones,
mere dolls, still are they thrall to you.
All aspects that they lean towards
cannot escape such truth.
In folly aimed at Death,
that witless Tyrant—all are bent on life.
And life it is that teems their multitudes
across the myriad plains.

The sound of the imaginary flute
I can’t hear anything else
(would that be bearing false witness?)
as the sounds peal through their resonance
high notes above the dancing bear
that I can’t see possibly in my current circumstance
his girdle tooled red leather and his muzzle
weaved of basketry—a small tired black bear from the Urals
dancing on all fours until encouraged
to stand proud a mock human the humans mock
to mock themselves. The flute, the flute
the bear the flute the bear.

You cannot preserve the authentic
Beautiful rain—oh that sound
Even song will not—down righteous rain
Fog and tanks—the air raid—fox
The stage is empty and the audience nil.

rain will down and dover petals
libretto quatint the pier collapsed
no version left—
Coventry Warwickshire

(night clothes wet in fields
night wet sheets
Wellington boot arcadia)

So many that died and so few
That I knew properly—a handful only
Being Mother—some uncles—Aunts
But of the passing of those few—too much

The loathsome sister naked in the hall
I hear the creaking like a human moan
Her breasts are hidden by a paper towel
Her mound the moon of Venus shines

Wet hair
Hers is an anguish she self-clasped
An agony held tight—on pause—the bath
Is owl white—a dreadful clamour rinses her despair.

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Author Bio: Martin Corless-Smith was born and raised in Worcestershire, England. Two of his books were published in 2015: Bitter Green, from Fence Books, and This Fatal Looking Glass, from SplitLevel Texts. He teaches Creative Writing and Literature at Boise State University.