Come: do not touch me: let me alone discover
The holy and funereal ground where I
Must take this fated earth to be my shroud.
Ego teeters on the tip of years
Honks a last horn, taps flippers, rears
To cheers and fish and waddles off,
An old thespian with a cough
Retreating to a circus cage
After a lifetime centre stage
To rot behind steel bars and wait.
Self examines the heap of time,
Hefts what is left, sifts all behind,
Gathers toddler tears, abiding pain
From rejection, not risked again,
Compacts the lot to stucco paste,
Concots history out of waste
and plays Macaulay with your life.
I bursts the bonds of blood and bone
More often now as head grows bare -
Diving at dusk form a Greek cliff,
Heels rising over sea; sheets mussed,
Languorous beside a lover
For the first time; the house hushed
By a violin heralding
Violetta's death - being blanks,
Ego and sef wink out, no sound, no
Clock ticks, no up, down, for a breath
All comes to view, math's phantom strings
Shivering beneath the stars beside
A loathed or longed for face,
Silver for sere indignities.
from We Look Like This (Carcanet, 2012), © Dan Burt, used by permission of the author and the publisher