Billy and The Angel

The angel sat on the edge of the trench smoking a cigarette as a new dawn rose over the ruined landscape.
‘There’s always someone worse off than you’ it said.
Billy looked around with the eye that he still had left to see.
The trench was full of mud and blood, most of which, observed Billy, was his.
‘I don’t see anyone’ he said.
‘Look harder’ said the angel.
‘My legs hurt’ said Billy.
‘That’ll be the legs that you no longer have’ said the angel.
A tear fell from Billy’s eye.
‘No use crying over spilt milk.’
Billy wiped the tear from his one eye with the one arm he had left.
‘God help me’ he said.
‘Praying for yourself now?’ said the angel, smiling, ‘Tut, tut.’
Billy despaired.
‘Give me a break, for fuck’s sake.’
‘Look’ said the angel, pointing, ‘over there.’
Billy strained his one eye in the darkness and saw, ten foot down the trench under a pile of wooden planks and body parts and broken ammunition boxes, something stir.
‘There you go’ said the angel.
‘There you go what?’ said Billy.
‘Someone worse off than you.’
‘Help me’ said a feeble voice, ‘please help me.’
‘Well go on’ said the angel to Billy, ‘do something.’
Billy looked with his one eye at the arm he no longer had left and the legs he no longer had and the blood all around him that was mostly his and said:
‘I’m sorry.
I can’t.’
‘Help me’ said the voice, ‘please help me.’
‘How the fuck’ said Billy to the angel, ‘is he worse off than me right now?’
‘It’s simple’ said the angel, blowing a cloud of smoke across the last star.
‘Nobody loves him.’
A warm wave washed over Billy’s heart and he remembered the sweet peas in his grandmother’s garden and the warm smell of home.
‘Oh’ he said.
‘Help me’ said the voice.
‘I’m here for you, brother’ said Billy.
‘Goodbye, Billy’ said the angel.
‘I’m here.’

© Gail Foster 30th July 2019

Reasoning with Icarus

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Icarus, mate, come on down from that ledge

Lest a mischievous breeze tip you over the edge

Icarus, mate, you’re a worrying sight

And your winged silhouette is obscuring the light

Begone, Doubting Thomas, stop talking to me

I am glittered and feathered and wild and free

The skies sparkle sapphire, the winds are all still

And I’ll do what I wish, and I’ll fly as I will

Icarus, dude, you’re just not talking sense

And you’re coming across as unwisely intense

Your delusions of flying are frankly absurd

Mate, don’t get me wrong, I’m just having a word

And what would you know about flying with wings

You with yer earthly material things

Go crawling back under yer sensible stone

And leave my ethereal being alone

Icarus, mate, we all know you’re odd

Just a little bit Satan, a little bit God

You can call me a stick in the mud or a liar

But Icarus, mate, you are Not the Messiah

Fool, look at my wings, and admire my glory

Generations to come will be telling my story

As I shimmer with beauty, all shining, transparent

Oh, see me and weep, I am spirit apparent

Icarus, friend, it’s like clearly your call

But isn’t it rather a long way to fall

Come down, smell the flowers in the meadows of Crete

For the grass on this side is as lovely, and sweet

You’re bugging me, friend, you’re a bee in my bonnet

Bear your own cross and hang sighing upon it

Put down your bow and desist with your arrows

And go back to flying with pigeons and sparrows

Icarus, mate, you’re as high as a kite

It so pains me to see your precarious plight

And unlike the Devil, I’m here to insist

That you turn from the edge, and like Jesus, resist

The breeze stirs my wings, all my quills are a quiver

I am flustered with light and electrical shiver

As I fill up my lungs with cold rarified breath

I am all full of grace, and not frightened of death

Icarus, mate, don’t do it, don’t do it

Come down from that height and we’ll sit and talk through it

For this lyrical mystical flight you intend

Is madness, just madness, my mythical friend

Talk to the wings, for I can’t hear you now

Hazy legions of angels are kissing my brow

No dark lamentation or dubious prayer

Will stop me from drinking the wine of the air

So I watched in dismay, as Icarus flew

For a moment he shone like the sun on the dew

I told you, he shouted, triumphant with glee

As the hint of his shadow swam light on the sea

There was pain in my heart, and a tear in my eye

For a moment I thought, perhaps he will fly

Then I watched in dismay, as he dropped like a stone

In a flurry of quills, and of wax, and of bone

Oh we all die alone, it is said by the wise

All dissolve in the sea, or are took by the skies

But black is the comedy known by the dead

For I died when Icarus fell on my head

*

© Gail Foster 2016

Phoenix Rose; for Lisa Lewis

 

Lisa Lewis is the CEO of Doorway in Chippenham

She’s a legend.  Just don’t mess with her, right…

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Don’t mess with Lisa, she’s a scary

Far out full on punky fairy

Crowned with violent flowers and sage

And riding on her harnessed rage

Through tangled wood and thorny bower

To speak unsubtle truth to power

Don’t mess with Lisa, man, she’s scary

Wise be wise and fools be wary

For she will tread where no man goes

To seek those things that no one knows

Expect no mercy if you cross her

Best be right and not a tosser

Don’t mess with Lisa, she’s so scary

Medusa crossed with Virgin Mary

Bottle, balls, and Occam’s razor

Prosecco, throttle up, and tazer

Wild light to make a diamond shy

And tears forbidden from her eye

Don’t mess with Lisa, man, she’s scary

That’s one well effective fairy

Pierced with wisdom to the bone

Dark metal angel stood alone

Feared and loved by all she knows

A phoenix, from the darkness rose

*

© Gail Foster 2016

 

The Angel of the North

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Another bloody southerner

Shedding tears at my steely feet

I stand in judgement over you

See me and weep

Tell the angels of the south

To bless you with their feathered sympathy

I have no eyes to cry for you

Nor close in sleep

This is my body, glorious

Within my breast a thousand hammers beat

I cast a shadow over you

See me and weep

*

by Gail

The Curious Offering of the Sacristan

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The curious offerings of sacristans

Are given in obscure humility

The symbol of the cupping of the hands

Enshrines the essence of this mystery

The dawn unlocked; the turning of a key

The mystic world behind the little door

The mourning weepers, watching, silently

The quiet foot upon uneven floor

The layered shadowed centuries; the pass

Of long dead worshippers before the throne

Slow shifts of coloured pools of stains of glass

Soft drift of latticed light on pillar stone

The empty candle, thirsting for new oil

Unscrewed and filled, screwed up again and lit

The hidden corners, carved by masons’ toil

In which a wary flickered flame may flit

The covering, uncovering; each fold

Of linen and of altar cloth an art

Within the starch of white, on marble cold

The space to hold His living, beating heart

Here, understated wafers wait in line

For blessing, as an unblessed congregation

Here silver, water, light, and red wine shine

Anticipating sacred consecration

Here eye, and hand, and mind, seek symmetry

In objects placed, in psychic ebbs and flows

Seek that perfection only God can see

In right angle and scented mystic rose

When all are done and gone, her hands will shake

The fragments of His flesh on holy ground

Shed drops upon the earth its thirst to slake

Pour water through the light without a sound

When all are gone, all blessed with wine and bread

There, in the East, where better men have trod

She kneels and presses to the step her head

And, lost in awe, she speaks these words to God

I am that ancient soul you always knew

A part of you, from when time first began

The I am that I am, the that in you

That serves thee, as I will, while still I can

I come to you as Christian, Muslim, Jew

Agnostic, Gnostic, Druid, Angel, Man

In the cupping of my hands I give to you

The curious offering of the sacristan

© Gail Foster 2016

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This poem has been chosen as Poem of the Month at Sherborne Abbey

I’m thrilled