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By Stephen Kingsnorth

Why do the bunches and bouquets

contain messages to the dead

and even nicknames, soubriquets,

as if a better hearing earned;

not sympathy to relatives

but too late words to be passed on?

In heaven’s name, calligraphy

where serif’s sing by putti wings,

as if the fonts of wisdom bring

fresh hope to fading daffodils;

is breaking down the gates of hell

achieved by biro-scripted tales?

Criss-crosses mark what lips would do

if only flesh and blood remained,

but even dust to dust has rained

on box laid down, brass plate engraved;

encomium on card relayed

lest eulogy did not suffice.

Near deadline pass, column obits

speak for the circle, pound a word,

where weighty terms in measured lines

dance to a tune unrecognised;

as wheat and tares together sown,

not to uproot till judgement day.

The coffin sank, plot waterlogged,

grave flooding, sodden sods on mound,

as Jesus plunged to hades world,

Gehenna, council rubbish dump;

the smoky hell, where embers burn,

who knows the temper, future world?

Unless the angels literate,

extinguishers in other place,

the writing will unread remain

and just a wish-list mourners frame;

but if I ask, why write the note,

not tell yet living, they are loved?

First published by Sparks of Calliope


Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church due to Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies. More of his work can be found at


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