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: www.der-jimmelwriter.com.