Spectre of the Rose, an excerpt

by Frank D. Walsh

0223200854a

I have raked in your ashes
from the kiln of love gone cold
and dared your thorns,
and whirlwind of lips but
the gun sounded or time summoned
me to the arcade of its shrine;
still you arranged sanctuary for my kind.

As the world turns it starves,
the earth releases its strings
and we drift to the far corners
of our cells, the walls and ceiling falling away
on approach. All the while
we clutch the spectre of a rose
vaguely recollected only in its loss.

unlimited wants sooner or later
confront unlimited resolve
negotiating for a better part
of a day, still only one gets up
off the bed, voiding the fluids
of the other. The atmosphere is aglow
and consumes the vanquished where he lay.

I have raffled-off the sealed glass
and used the alembic like a token
to pass through the gates
of abandoned gardens, lost cities
reaching the harbor before nightfall,
finding the promenade vacant at its edge, those
who preceded me there having

left no trace, not even a stain upon the concrete
or iron, I collapsed to my knees
and cried for hours in the darkness
not knowing the cause, nor caring
much for the release that is
a side effect of such emotion,
but once recovered, doubled back in shame.
***

Frank D. Walsh has been for the last few decades Philadelphia’s best poet.

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