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James W. Wood: a poem

Aeneas in the Twenty-First Century

for Samuel and Thomas Nouwen-Cooper

In early dark or morning light

those prayers the ancients offered

might seem true: how like sunset

the burning of a boar's entrails

in darkness. Spilt blood in bowls,

those rich vermilion rays

that bless us from the East. And we

still stand bemused, shields

by our sides, before the threat

of night or a fresh day. We

long for rhyme and rhythm

though we fear their certainty, those

songs that echo down the centuries.

Ours is a hell the prophets could not utter,

not apothenin thelo but everything

bathed in the false light of figures –

not knowing; only learning.

Watch them pass through

those onyx and ivory gates,

the ages melding as they journey

to a world where sign and symbol

are the same, nature untamed

and fabulous, unrestrained

by the ruinous tick of clock or chip.

Tonight we sail for Elysium: ready the ships.

James W. Wood's poems, articles and short stories have appeared in many literary journals and newspapers, including The TLS, The Poetry Review, The National Post (Canada), and Critical Quarterly. The author of six books of poetry and a pseudonymous thriller, he has been shortlisted or nominated for eight literary awards and was the 2018 recipient of the British Columbia Writer's Award in Canada. You can find him here:


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