by Iain James Robb


Slumber comes too late to scare awakening;

I know, before, there was a life to bind me.

I cross the streets instead and watch the rainfall

        Murmur without ears.


It can know no sound but seems intent on hearing

What it has to say, or what it breathes in being

To my ear that hears not, to myself is listening,

        Too restrained for tears.


There lies no mirror of my outward motion

(To lose myself in rarely traveled byways)

In my eyes, turned inward on the crooked highways

        Of my downward mind.


Drifting through unstartled streets sans sunlight,

Lost to all those ones I'd shed behind me,

I wish there was a place where none might find me,

         Wingless, under ground.


There is one place I know, that no roads lead to,

I go to now, towards which shards of moonlight

Shine, from saffron fields of star-blanched concrete,

          Cancelling the stars.


The faces there are as the winds behind her,

Distant yet, and too remote to view her:

But if all seemed right, and if they only knew her

          Would they mourn that, now?


Though her eyes shed violets under lands of azure,

Though they laughed at blessing or, at rest, an hour,

Would the almsless flowers not redeem their power

          At the gates of care?


I do not know how he could conspire her capture:

For it seemed my sense was more attuned, in doses

Of her starless guile, to lips that mocked all roses,

          Cinnabars and myrrh.


At a glance I died, before some strained adonic

Could find its place in words I feel deceive me:

Chanelled at the eye of thought to limp out sapphics

           In pursuit of you.


It was a blessing beyond benediction,

Some antic state that made me dream I'd hold you;

And so my gait drifts in a barren country

         Measureless, unblessed.


In the deads of darkening I failed to find you;

And the streetlights, vacant as the starry eyeballs

They cast askance, were as the light that, restless,

          Infiltrates my rest.


I can just see darkness where that light is resting;

It is all of yours, and where its lamp is looking

It divides the eye and thought in stormy waters

          Too constrained to weep.


Yet within this night none of their faces falling

Were yours; they seemed too cast from stormless waters

To sympathise with mine or all that falters

          Cradled into sleep.


There is a wind that drifts against a broken window,

In a room adjacent from the one I drown in,

Every night recalling how my infant fingers

          Sifted through the shore:


And thought each grain of sand contained an island

Borne up against this world of petty borders,

But each is gone; I hear the wind retreating

           Say, “I leave you now.”


Shall I sleep, or care enough to leave a relic

Of the daze I dream awake, in ink that whitens,

To expend myself again, at last, in sapphics,

          Now, again once more?


I leave you also; now my eyes are bleeding

The face my fancy caught from wakeful minutes

That are lost as sand, that veers in windy motion,

          That which holds you now.