sense controls

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Not Pastoral Enough
Veronica Forrest-Thomson
homage to William Empson
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,
Landing every poem like a fish.
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles.

Glittering scales require the deadly tolls
Of net and knife. Scales fall to relish.
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls.

Yet languages are apt to miss on souls
If reason only guts them. Applying the wish,
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles,

Ignores the fact that poems have two poles
That must be opposite. Hard then to finish
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,

Without a sense of lining up for doles
From other kitchens that give us the garnish:
Unhuman forms must not assert their roles.

And this (forgive me) is like carrying coals
To Sheffield. Irrelevance betrays a formal anguish.
It is the sense, it is the sense, controls,
“Unhuman forms must not assert their roles”.

all dead

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Literary Historian
Veronica Forrest-Thomson
I remember them saying,
these poems, their something
for someone at sometime
for me too, at one time.

That got in the way;
so I sent them away
back into history—
just temporarily.

They won’t come back now.
I can’t remember how
the words spoke, or what
they said,
except:
We are all dead

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

pretext to display

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According to the Script
Veronica Forrest-Thomson
Encounter with a friend, acquaintance
or just someone in a bar
is merely a pretext to display
your theory of what you are.

Absorbed in your own performance
you applaud or criticise,
and only to watch your reflection
do you look into his eyes.

Or, if a contrast’s noticed,
it’s to serve as a backcloth
useful for the setting
and to show your costume off.

He thought you concentrating
when you were running through
your lines rehearsing gestures
while waiting for your cue.

Still soliloquising you said goodbye,
went on, and never knew
that the stranger, the other
had been speaking to you.

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

clouded glass

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Through the Looking Glass
Veronica Forrest-Thomson
Mirror, mirror on the wall
show me in succession all
my faces, that I may view
and choose which I would like as true.

Teach me skill to disguise
what’s not pleasing to the eyes,
with faith, that life obeys the rules,
in man or God or football pools.

Always keep me well content
to decorate attitude and event
so that somehow behind the scene
I may believe my actions mean;

that one can exercise control
in playing out a chosen role;
rub clouded glass and then,
at will, write self on it again.

But if, in some unlucky glance,
I should glimpse naked circumstance
in all its nowhere-going-to,
may you crack before I do.