Augustus Young       light verse, poetry and prose
a webzine of new and unpublished work


After Rilke

His eyes, smarting from the blur of bars,
barred in, fixed, vacant, no longer see
beyond the cage to the world of stars.
Bars, bars, bars are his infinity.
Pacing round in narrowing circles,
his ponderous strides, being powerful still,
assuage his indomitable will
as on the spot he proudly hurtles.
Yet, now and then, the drooped eyelashes     
raise a lid, seemingly to reclaim,
with a pulsing of muscle from brain
to heart, a thought. The moment passes. 

After Rilke

So here stands death, an azure infusion,
in a cup without visible support,
poised at the back of the wrist. Look, no hands!
It doesn’t matter that the handle’s broken.
Dust off the faded legend. It reads ‘Ho-pe’.
The designated drinkers see it as
the dregs of a breakfast they never had.
You can’t blame them for distancing themselves
from the idea of taking the poison.
But they can’t remain for ever engrossed
in the niceties of putting off
the evil day. They must be decisive.
Take out the harsh reality, like false teeth,
so they can babble on like a baby.
O falling star,
once seen from a bridge,
you are personal. Stand and watch.   

Blind Man: Paris
After Rilke’s rewriting of Baudelaire’s ‘Les Aveugles’ 

Look, there he goes, interrupting the traffic
like a black crack running through a china cup.  
In his darkness the city doesn’t exist for him.
It traces on his fleeting shadow a graphic
transparency of sights that he cannot take in.
What he sees in himself causes the hold up. 
His insight illuminates the world, and imbues
the streets with little waves of feeling, a frisson
that leaves us dumbstruck as he lifts his hand to choose
some bystander to lend an arm to help
him across the boulevard. No one could refuse,
with the almost festive air he offers himself. 


You’re in my room. My room of lateral vision.
You’re taken for granted, part of the furniture.
I have always known you. We have grown together.
Now you’re part of my life that I don’t know about.
I wake from a bad dream, burdened by the shadow
that intimates your absence, and sleepwalk downstairs.
Overnight the familiar has been made strange.
I only noticed you when I turned on the light. 
Now my eyes focus on the floor. It steadies me.
The carpet is a tapestry of our past life.
You are holding your own where nobody else would.
As clear as day I can see that nothing has changed.

The Deaf Hear Infinity 

The voices get more distant.
Once they shouted in my ear.
A whispering it isn’t.
More a rasp that’s hard to hear.
Gone is the biblical song
when the turtle’s cry was heard.
The background noises belong
to the dialogue of the sourd.
I keep my ear to the ground,
and their quake unbalances me.
I fall to earth with the sound
Victor Hugo called infinity.
Now I am deaf to the world
except with my hearing aid.
I turn it on and the word
that echoes makes me afraid.     
But I can’t quite make it out.
Not even the language it’s in.
Not to know what it’s about,
I turn a deaf ear and sing. 


Time speeds up at the end
and the finish is frenetic.
I can’t find time to spend
with myself. And others don’t get it.
It’s less to do with Einstein
and his hoopla rounding off,
than living on a straight line
while thinking you’re Van Gogh.  
O that life’s clock was a sundial
in a climate without a cloud.
Linger in the garden awhile.
Let evening shadows weave your shroud. 

Maison de Retraite

and nothingness,
and Bernard,
standing still.
A study
in gray,
save a red skullcap
that will outlive him.  
sits sleeping
by the dustbins,
his hand out.
There are coins
in the palm.
has been locked out.
It’s night and he is looking up
like an El Greco saint.
His halo, the moon,
isolated in a ring of cloud,
shines through,
a dumb blonde.
The gate creaks and he’s taken in.
His last look at the sky
is one of longing
for what he once remembered.
The sky pays no attention.