“Deadlines” by Stephen Kingsnorth

Why do the bunches and bouquets
contain messages to the dead
and even nicknames, soubriquets,
as if a better hearing earned;
not sympathy to relatives
but too late words to be passed on?

In heaven’s name, calligraphy
where serif’s sing by putti wings,
as if the fonts of wisdom bring
fresh hope to fading daffodils;
is breaking down the gates of hell
achieved by biro-scripted tales?

Criss-crosses mark what lips would do
if only flesh and blood remained,
but even dust to dust has rained
on box laid down, brass plate engraved;
encomium on card relayed
lest eulogy did not suffice.

Near deadline pass, column obits
speak for the circle, dollar word,
where weighty terms in measured lines
dance to a tune unrecognized;
as wheat and tares together sown,
not to uproot till judgement day.

The coffin sank, plot waterlogged,
grave flooding, sodden sods on mound,
as Jesus plunged to hades world,
Gehenna, council rubbish dump;
the smoky hell, where embers burn,
who knows the temper, future world?

Unless the angels literate,
extinguishers in other place,
the writing will unread remain
and just a wish-list mourners frame;
but if I ask, why write the note,
not tell while living, we are loved?

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 180 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, printed journals and anthologies.


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