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Daniel Gooding: a poem

Descended from Bellringers


It feels like calling on God

at his former address,

pulling on the sally.


A great-great grandfather

or someone allegedly

won prizes for his ringing,


so maybe He can give me

back my ball, or whatever

it is I feel I've lost.


Up and down the ringers' arms,

elderly pirates

boarding a higher purpose.


I brace myself to join their

already accomplished crew,

but I have waited too long;


my connection goes slack, and

I am lost. Something up there

snatches the rope from my grip,


and I am forced to watch

the younger bellmaster yank

the cord into submission,


the lowing of the lone bell

panic-tolling for my first

go at an ancient practice.


Later the tower captain

takes me up into the loft,

where on the visitors' plank


the more modern bells rebuke

my efforts to unhook

the moorings of my age;


and, somewhere up above,

the last surviving bell

of the original church


sits silently atop

warped medieval planks,

a shipwreck in the sky.

D. P. Gooding’s fiction has been featured in Stroud Short Stories: Volume 2 2015-2018 and two anthologies from New York-based publisher New Lit Salon Press, Startling Sci-Fi: New Tales of the Beyond and First Came Fear: New Tales of Horror. He has been a regular contributor to The Guardian and Information Professional, and in 2022 he was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prize. He currently lives in a small village near the Cotswolds.

1 comment

1 Comment

Mar 24

So evocative and the running metaphor of piracy throws us into the past and rushing into the present, like your bell ropes. I love this!

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