Issue 28: Aaron Kent

The Treaty You Couldn’t Write

and so they all sprawl before us.

            They are absurd. Exhausted

of everything that can be said.

            They have nothing to say to us and

the echoes of that grave bed

            of our past, over of life, shows

the width of its defiance. But there

            is also something. The idea was not

                        invented by us. A human

stamped on every parent and child, every school,

            every epic. It is the same. It is bigger than life.

And why should it be true? It is true

            because it is our private illusion,

it is the most splendid lily.

            Our foolery is the source

of what has stood us still through generations.

            Neither the profligate glow of Dionysus's power,

                        nor the wildfire banqueting

of Poseidon, neither the desperate charisma

            of Eros, nor the relentless aggression

of Ares – He alone knows the cost

            of this love: each can kill or be killed.

And we have lived on grains of cloud as so many

            living birds of the morning have

                        dared to bend and hold a branch, strike down

by the merciless allure of the glass-

            eyed eye which flicks the tongue

and makes you suffer. But still we hold

            our feathers until the last bird flies,

and it may be that we win, and leave

            in some obscure fire a fluttering handful

                        of hair. But what if we lose?

But when is the last bird

We have lived on the

slightest breath of our own

that the last will never

be as brief as the last breath

we have lost in the night.

The idea is an old one. The notion

of the human soul, of its capacity

to carry all creation inside it: the idea

has its origin in the myth we are

all creatures. We have been told:

There was a time when we were happy

and sang of it and lived in it

and named the time before them

and the time after them.

and when it was over

we  forgot the time of  happiness.

But what if the words

Do not fall out of my mouth?

I am talking a language

They cannot understand.

In the long ago they took away

a hundred eyes to see all the world in.

I am singing the names of

Who wept all the tears.

What if the song

Does not fall out of my lips?

Aaron Kent is a working-class writer and insomniac from Cornwall. He has had several books published and his work has been praised by the likes of JH Prynne, Gillian Clarke, Andre Bagoo, Andrew McMillan, Abdul Kader El-Janabi, and Vahni Anthony Ezekiel Capildeo.

Aaron was awarded the Awen medal from the Bards of Cornwall in 2020, then subsequently suffered a brain haemorrhage a few months later. Coincidence? Probably.

Copyright © 2022 by Aaron Kent, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.