Three Poems by Patrick Davidson Roberts



There are no injections         against the devil

certain traces                        began to appear

along the walls Oh                god! God help me

don’t let him take me            The priest dressed

the room in water                 from the Jordan

(or so he said, but the          world is full of lies)

I spent two hours                 watching him

intone one phrase                after another

betoken one offering           on from the last

and only when he broke     for lunch did the voice

inside me speak                   Should you tell him or should I?


The Bidding Stick


There will be another burning time               come the summer

with the rooftop gutter-high                and cellar turned to tower

she sent us out like so many Crann Tara flaming through the valleys

and the towns astir with the noise of rebellion      highland names

fastened as belts over plaid             the unsure youngest man

who still takes to the heather          with his kin at the sight of one

burning cross                      where we went we travelled as orphans do

avoiding the main roads    skirting byways             but always leaving

the trail of her touch as salt in      runnel as chalk over blackest peat


now hear the clipped tones of those sent to put us down          the men

of care               concern        endeavour     and never a sleepless night

there will be never again a sight                as you would catch if you would stay

of pyre after pyre         whole streets brought to furnace    the great wreck

the undecided death caught at a window bare in my shirt            never again




She decided morning             Illness made enunciate

The trick was waking             before them

as the turn had been              the night before

acting out both                        of her roles

To the west I give you            your undoubted queen

and so she kissed                    the naked face

above those breasts                let her own kind follow

as a dropped hand                  the sudden curve

to the wrist                               at her crotch

To the north I give                  you your undoubted queen

And bent so                              letting him inside

The evening was her whim   The taste of a double life

She dressed                              as they slept stupid

Leaving the room herself      or whomever they had wanted


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