Michael Vince Poems

Twelve Poems of Michael Vince

photo of Michael Vince in Rome


Reaching far back in darkness the cave appears

To be a small blind hole, a mouth that sneers,

An eye half closed. Slow horsemen out of range

Make spurts of dust, which settle and then change

To echoing gunshots. In early light the plain

Mists and becomes the sea, or gleams with rain,

Alters its features, twists its trees with snow,

Then blossoms red in villages below.

The cave stares blankly down, surrounded by

The hard immensities of stone and sky.

A cave makes images. Inside the frame

A bearded man sits motionless: his name

Is Edward John Trelawney. He is not

Posing it seems, for he has just been shot

Twice from behind, once shattering his jaw.

His teeth and blood lie here on the cave floor,

And there his would-be murderer lies dead.

Pain fills the cave, reviving in his head

The recent corpses of his friends, the pyre

Of Shelley and a heart snatched from the fire,

And Byron’s body viewed beneath the sheet,

That white Adonis with wry satyr feet.

He leans against a stone and there he stays

Biding his injuries for twenty days.

A world of light throws shadows on the wall

Whose rock itself is hollow. It is a small

Find from the start to know that there are few

Versions inside which are entirely true.

Ice splits the cliffs, stones fall, sparse flowers bloom;

A man sits writing in a high old room.

Fierce heart, old brigand, fiction takes you in:

The broken mouth stays open in a grin.