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Lay for the Day 14th December

The feast day of St John of the Cross, patron saint of poets.

The Eternal

Legs crooked, back pressed on the wall,
he looked sidelong at one among
that drinking company. This one opined
that they were all securely damned
in God’s forbidding, downcast, regal eye,
that broods on the sphere of his dominion,
unless they turned old age to shaky prayer,
and thus double-damned for premeditation.

Got up off the floor, dusted down his thighs,
brushed the sawdust off his doublet and,
grinning a foolish grin, departed.
Only to lose his way in a bare pasture;
to lay his void head down on a plump tussock
under wheeling stars, spewing their canary
plentifully in the grass roots and, looking up,
to begin to praise the eternal
in iambics that almost came out right.


John Gibbens
from Makings ’77-’83


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar