Song of the Dead City

July 9, 2015 at 1:44 pm 2 comments

I am double-posting this.  This is my intended submission to a poetry contest, the first in twenty years or so.  I have never double-posted before but may start doing so and figure out how to repost some entries, per advice, ’cause people simply miss stuff unless they visit your home on Twitter.  ‘Home.’  What an odd series of connotations that has taken on in the electronic age.
Song of the Dead City

crystal, distorted moments:
this young girl’s breast
for a moment revealed, and i,
twice her age, cannot quite
look away, though
i do not move to touch her.

and as a child, at her age,
i can remember watching, just so,
my untouched love by-walking,
unglancing:  recording
each hip-shot sway,
each graceful curve’s allurement.

(in Alexandria, they say,
the Blind King parties, of nights,
in the ancient ruins.
ghosts and mad fancies:
i knew
the wise man quite well, once,
long ago.)

how many names have i called?
and how many paths
have i sought, yet unbelieving
in my course’s goal?…i have not seen,
i hope to touch
my Grail, my Other:

from some single
point, or focus:
to know all earth, the sky.
the meaning
of these traces, touches,

cannot be said nor bound.
that trickster turner
catches and passes, unslain,
unslaying, unsaid…

In the Dead City
i resided a while.
At first, viewing
the new buildings,
the gleaming cars
i could not understand its name.

But when i
approached you,
you could not
hear me.

Too many questions
behind the first admission.

…silent, stumbling, deathly
tired, i entered
the desert.

(as i scribe my poems
on the sand, the conscientious
keeper of the desert, wind,
whisks each line, each trace


Few words
have been meaning, most touches
have merely
slipped away:  and have been,
on the whole, forgotten.

–When i first met you, i’d been
in the desert
some months.  My lips
were cracked and dry, my eyes

were full of visions…
in the dead city, where
the madmen and the thieves
do roam and stray, you

tended my wounds, my aching
i fascinated you:  ragged, long-haired,

but the wolves
or the madmen (i am not,
i confess, quite sure which) howled
and i left, unheeding

to your calls.  (In
the Dead City, you
tended my wounds, and i
left you.)

i returned
to the desert and its
wordless teachings.

o, i say, do you
remember touching me
in the Dead City?


and once by a river
i saw an old man,

i heard the old man

“i would have silence,
silence and a dry crust,
and a dry crust

“i would come under
the shadow of that Rock,
that red rock, that
dry rock,
i would come under
the shadow of that

“but at the Hill
there was no answer,
i could not find
that open grave, i…

“i found no silence,
no peace, only plenty
and much
merry-making, they…

“they have all become rich:
in the sanctum
whited sepulchres, they
know not hunger
nor any need, they
have become rich.”

i saw his hands, too,
marred by scars, as if,
once, his palms
had been pierced…

his hair was long, and wild
as his eyes; no
salon would be graced
by such a one…

he sat by the river and
wept, sat by the
by-rushing and wept…

wept for the unborn
dead and all
the world’s sorrows, wept…

but his shoulders, bowed,
would no longer
support the world’s weight…

o, but having

heard the Man
and his sorrowing cry, i

can but search
for the shadow
of that Rock,
his rock.


In the city of the dead,
in that City, madmen roam
to and fro,
seeking for a god
whose name they
no longer remember.

(Once, i recall,
i saw one sitting
in the seat of an auto
long dead.  That great
God, i say, was dead.)


These visions
are illusive, lending
little connection.

But once, bathing
nude with a girl, i think
she was sixteen, and beautiful,
made no attempt
to seduce her.

may be called
many things.

Absent-eyed, dreaming
in a fall wind, i journey
far straits, on brave, unending voyages.


The winter, that year,
came early, bitter (ah, but
i remember
the summer’s roses, sweeter
for the cold that followed)…

each huddled each
to house, clasping
what need would call
one’s love…

odd, that the spring
should sunder so many!  perhaps
we know little
of those mysteries, our selves.


o, yes, travellers have come
with names of their gods
and stories of strange visions, promises
of never-never lands…

the world remains.  though
i name the thunder Thor,
and call the earth Urmutter
this makes the name

no less of man, no more
of the thing itself.

at the fane of the dark,
the nameless god, we gathered

to celebrate our mutilation.
(i have not seen the
light in some years, now)…
our habits have scarred us,

here, in this desert-bordering
city.  (the blind boy, sitting
across the square from my door,
sings of sunset.)

fugitive dreams, vain fancies, thoughts
of an old man
in a dry and unsolaced
season.  (peace, and a dry crust)


I saw you, last night,
dancing alone in your rooms,
half-nude, with
a slow and stately grace.

But when i called you,
you would not or could not

Passing one another on the street,
at times, we brush.
Though we’re near neighbors,

you’ve never deigned to
notice me or my
feeble gestures of greeting
(your beauty stuns me dumb)

–i should have been
a hermit, an ascetic.
rather, i hesitate

before touching or its lack
neither affirm love
nor gainsay it.

but, as you pass once again–
as i review private, midnight
at times i ache to touch you.


At times i ache
in the west wind, dreaming
of leaving.  I
have been here
forty years, now.

(I know these hills well.
Spring-green, summered
tinder dry; autumn-russet
and, of winter, again perversely
green…my memory
as my socks ticked
with beggars-lice…)

There is so much
i’ll never know, though
through all those
different countries i’ve known
there was really
small difference, small change…

At times, all the faces
i’ve known parade
before me…perhaps

i have had too many
friends and lovers.
dry man in a wet month,
glooming over following winter:  perhaps

we’re jesters all.  as i stare,
disconsolate, desiring
my untouched, unknown,
mysterious Other.

Entry filed under: Ancient Poetry. Tags: , .

I’m Taking A Rather Astonishing Position As Well Donald Trump is Worth Ten Billion US Dollars

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jack  |  May 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Wyrdwend and commented:
    Not bad at all and in parts quite excellent.

    • 2. samwise davies  |  August 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Thank you, I wrote that some forty years ago. It’s based on Dahlgren/Delany in part.


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