This is Not a Sonnet
Are we really who we say we are?
Tell me your perceptions if you dare -
or maybe not would be a better thing
than face such brutal truths and slingshot
But do our eyes exactly coincide,
interpreting the meaning in a glance
to say with confidence; 'I understand,'
and penetrate the truth behind the face?
We each have mental pictures of ourselves
and of each other, but how accurate
is sight against sensation? Both can lie
with false impressions steaming up the lens
of the mind's half-closed, myopic eye.
November the Fifth
King James' knives slit the Catholic belly,
draw the living entrails, inflict agony
Punishment thought fit enough for treason,
and this we celebrate
as if a testament to cruelty spanning centuries
might be a cause for joy. Not content to simply kill,
outrage fired a nation's soul to draw life
coil by coil,
taking pride in slow work;
the face a painted mask of retribution,
the heart a cinder, brazier bright,
the first firework, sealed
in eternal flame
and still we celebrate
as each new bomb, each bullet is cheered
after the fact and on
through the desert heat or jungle green
we follow the progress
of a nation's slow evisceration,
cheer and salute the victory
of state over common humanity.
Richard Copeland © 2008
'A Modern Prelude' was first published in
The Frogmore Papers, 2008.
All poems from Richard Copeland's
forthcoming collection This Is Not A Sonnet
(Survivors' Press, 2008)