The soldier boys know nothing
of the world but how to end it;
nothing of books but how they burn.
Fire’s another slow reader
to begin with, then it skims,
remembering all it knows already.
Today the town square’s primordial
with mist and smoke, a smeared
flask of new beginnings; flames
well into their stride are strenuous
with cartloads of the mint and foxed
guilty of being on the wrong shelves.
And last of these, the luscious herbals.
Speed-edited for wormholes
and disinformation, they split, spill
their tinted cornucopias; fruit rises
blazing and exotic then descends
to seed the square with purer black.
Better than scandal sheets or almanacs,
agreed, but maybe we’ve seen endings
enough where nothing grows but hunger;
and soldiers with their sooty bayonets,
they’re known to get bored with embers,
to remember other work they have.
So fades the evening’s entertainment.
Pinched streets begin to fill the way
leaves and ashes clog the fountain
where the daft woman will spend her night,
begging for any fruit to spare, begging
the soldiers for her daughter back.
Alasdair Paterson, published in STRAND 195, vol 10 (3)
Once when I was living in the heart of a pomegranate, I heard a seed
saying, “Someday I shall become a tree, and the wind will sing in
my branches, and the sun will dance on my leaves, and I shall be
strong and beautiful through all the seasons.”
Then another seed spoke and said, “When I was as young as you, I
too held such views; but now that I can weigh and measure things,
I see that my hopes were vain.”
And a third seed spoke also, “I see in us nothing that promises so
great a future.”
And a fourth said, “But what a mockery our life would be, without
a greater future!”
Said a fifth, “Why dispute what we shall be, when we know not even
what we are.”
But a sixth replied, “Whatever we are, that we shall continue to
And a seventh said, “I have such a clear idea how everything will
be, but I cannot put it into words.”
Then an eight spoke–and a ninth–and a tenth–and then many–until
all were speaking, and I could distinguish nothing for the many
And so I moved that very day into the heart of a quince, where the
seeds are few and almost silent.
by Khalil Gibran (The Madman)
You tell me I am wrong.
Who are you, who is anybody to tell me I am wrong?
I am not wrong.
In Syracuse, rock left bare by the viciousness of Greek
No doubt you have forgotten the pomegranate-trees in
Oh so red, and such a lot of them.
Whereas at Venice
Abhorrent, green, slippery city
Whose Doges were old, and had ancient eyes.
In the dense foliage of the inner garden
Pomegranates like bright green stone,
And barbed, barbed with a crown.
Oh, crown of spiked green metal
Now in Tuscany,
Pomegranates to warm, your hands at;
And crowns, kingly, generous, tilting crowns
Over the left eyebrow.
And, if you dare, the fissure!
Do you mean to tell me you will see no fissure?
Do you prefer to look on the plain side?
For all that, the setting suns are open.
The end cracks open with the beginning:
Rosy, tender, glittering within the fissure.
Do you mean to tell me there should be no fissure?
No glittering, compact drops of dawn?
Do you mean it is wrong, the gold-filmed skin, integument,
For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.
It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.
D. H. Lawrence, from Birds, Beasts, And Flowers