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TEMPEST, Kate


From ‘Brand New Ancients’

See - all that we have here is all that we've always had.


We have jealousy

and tenderness and curses and gifts.

But the plight of a people who have forgotten their myths

and imagine that somehow now is all that there is

is a sorry plight,

all isolation and worry -

but the life in your veins

it is godly, heroic.

You were born for greatness;

believe it. Know it.

Take it from the tears of the poets.


There's always been heroes

and there's always been villains

and the stakes may have changed

but really there's no difference.

There's always been greed and heartbreak and ambition

and bravery and love and trespass and contrition -

we're the same beings that began, still living

in all of our fury and foulness and friction,

everyday odysseys, dreams and decisions . . .

The stories are there if you listen.


The stories are here,

the stories are you,

and your fear

and your hope

is as old

as the language of smoke,

the language of blood,

the language of

languishing love.


The Gods are all here.

Because the gods are in us.


The gods are in the betting shops

the gods are in the caff

the gods are smoking fags out the back

the gods are in the office blocks

the gods are at their desks

the gods are sick of always giving more and getting less

the gods are at the rave -

two pills deep into dancing -

the gods are in the alleyway laughing


The man Tiresias

It came out of nowhere.

All teeth and tussle.

Shouting like huge crowds behind him.


It stamped on his bones.

It shovelled his muscle.

Alone in a clearing where no one would find him.


He writhed in its jaws:

his lovers flashed past him.

The routine, the dinners, the dishes.


He felt the dense forest

close in and enchant him.

Cleansed of his longing for kisses.


He rose like a wreck on a winch.

Swaying and derelict.

Suddenly boy again. Soon to be man.


All of his grief was a burden to keep

deep down in his guts.

And he turned and he ran.


Fighting with shadows.

Swinging at birds as they laughed.

Too shaken to hate what had happened.


All that he'd learned to be true

fell to pieces.

He stared at the sun till it blackened.


Watching his body like it wasn't his.

He pushed his new shape

to the edge of the clearing.


And found the red road

that led out of the city.

And screamed until no one could hear him.


He journeyed for days,

until he was purified.

Feasting on tree bark and roadkill and petrol.


Macho man; ate cars for breakfast.

Natural man; skin the same texture as cactus.

Hands grew wild and dextrous and flew at his side like two kestrels.


His feet became tougher than limpets

his eyes became keener than knives,

his breath melted padlocks.


He heard a leaf falling

from five miles away,

and he moved like a dog on a ham hock.


All knowledge was his

and he learned the old words

for the things that he saw. He spoke out their names.


He learned to forget

his hurt and regret

he walked on his own, legs like two flames.


He grew dirty and tired and thirsty,

at the next town

he decided to stop at the bar.


And he saw then: no matter how far you have come,

you can never be further than right where you are.