old man Keats

i’m walking these empty lands
i’m old slow and graceless
the air’s bracing a lonely cold

i’m absorbed by recollection
we here together
such love so young

i limp onto war
a black blue military battle
the stench of dogma

i’m too slow
they execute might–be spies
dying surely waits here for me too

if i’m to die violent
i’ll sneer the killers
i’ll be all they can’t

i shelter peasants’ ruins
i lay my pack unpacked
groundsheet simple food water
‘hours of idleness’*

the battle flows turbulent
unpredicted waves of conflict
the blood wash nears ebbs nears

those trained to die do so quickly
the survivors dance the killing ballet
until luck turns and burns their peace

a squad and sergeant tumble me accidental
glance aghast at my civil taunt
one lad speaks a runner runs

and returns a captain rides up
like the emperor he used to be
sad laughter the squad is posted guard

the battle sprints
the other uniform swarm
confrontation

but the one lad shouts ‘old man Keats’
shock stop and hardly believe
both uniforms curse and tension guard

sod the lot of them
when we were here
wilderness lovers
we made the better bang

even though i’m dead
i’m not allowed to die today
but soon i will take the dark road
return to you


reading


*byron’s first volume

poem

2K0:2

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