The Vicious Beatitudes of Age: Ten Sonnets with a Coda by Tony Ullyatt

From An Unobtrusive Vice


Crouched among the last surviving pieces
of my life’s wreck, I seek a chemistry,
some wizard’s formula which releases
the wayward life from its grim history.
I remember how old trees looked in spring
wrapped, like roses, in brilliant splendour
and how love could seem an eternal thing
nourished in a world yet young and tender.
Now I confess that in the last resort,
I have learnt to share the alchemist’s dread
that all life’s elixirs in one retort,
may yield no lively gold but fatal lead.
Upon the remnants of this meagre pyre,
I must cremate the sweetness of desire.


When life decides to let my body be,
I shan’t be missed by the constant seasons;
rivers will run to dryness or the sea
and hail will still smash roses for reasons
of its own. I have no fear dying
despite every chance I have squandered,
all the time and love I’ve spent in trying
to ponder what oughtn’t to be pondered.
My unsought detours to reality’s
other temples in regions still unblessed,
have left me tattooed with the heresies
that lead the unwise to unshriven rest.
When I come to die of whatever cause,
I want the face before me to be yours.


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