Norman Jope

Tisnikar's Ravens

They debate, with eyes the size

of a human head,

what we'll taste like, later,

how we'll fill out their feathers -

on rained-on stubble fields

they congregate, intoning

litanies of offal, spirit as meat

as conflagrations rage

for their feeding-frenzy.

Eyes have to be this vast

to reflect the woes of a world

they turn to themselves to survive.

Alone, a small one hides in a candle,

head lowered in prayer

in a deep blue light.

If we burn down into his depths

we are turned to raven -

corvine transcendence

will give us wings

and we'll fly, to feed

on life, on death, on heaven

as the wax we no longer need

burns down to a stub.

In the company of ravens,

we are always one wing-beat

beyond this world

and our eyes become enormous -


we will pass, brandishing

our beaks, like plague-masks

in a patient's eye.

Norman Jope © 2009

A Trial of Strength

The stand-up bufé enters the stars.

See how they crowd around the cap of the worker

who lays down his broom for beer in a cup.

He lights a fag and its red torch blinks

like that satellite overhead, as the moon imposes ice.

His forty year-old face is wrinkled.

His fifty year-old face is wrinkled, and his lungs are tarred.

His sixty year-old face breaks down

and his friends from the bufé scatter his ashes.

Now, the ashes from his cigarette drop into the dusk

as the green suburban train comes in, on an evening abrupt

with frost.


Near life’s end, he sits

alone, in a high round tower,

il penseroso, browsing a book

from a library impressed

on the bones of slaves -

with a plot in the grounds

for a tomb that’s built to last

a thousand years,

a work for those unborn

to gaze on, ushered past.

The rich man sits

like God or the Devil,

mortal as a mayfly

in the fug of his self-esteem.

Norman Jope © 2009