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Alasdair Paterson

From: "My life as a mad king"

Villanelle the sixth

Winter is winter comes winter
a storming of the paradise
too cold a grip can crack you

Rook banners pincer movements
trenching tools and covert ops
winter is age comes winter

Parterre provocations quelled
rosebeds put to the question
too cold a grip can crack you

When trees embrace their inner ghosts
your mirror mists with unknown knowns
winter is love turns winter

Turn loose the blazing dancers
break out the sun god tapestries
too cold a grip can crack you

Summer gasps for the fountain
autumn shames the alchemist
winter is winter comes winter
too cold a grip can crack you

Villanelle the seventh

Late nights spying on the spies
rats’ nests and covert ops discuss
dark lantern check eyes hooded check

Marvel as they palm the ace
gasp at the skin they flay from truth
night eases my spyholes open

Their tongues sidle round my name
some words burn your mouth like pitch
candles eavesdrop on the listeners

Mankind’s proper study is
the twitch that thrills the spider’s web
black hours coaxing black harvests

Clouds are swagged across the moon
someone’s been talking in their sleep
embers dowsed and hands on knives

Doctors failed to break my code
the fool stole my cipherbook
dead silence grows death letters
coins gleam like the roots of pyres


Villanelle the eighth

Dark as six feet of dungeon earth
spidery as a signed confession
silent as cloaks by the frozen fountain

Well-hung as the family tree
doleful as dinner with parasites
dark as the assassin’s night shift

Abysmal as two steps off the map
dazzling as first dip in the grimoire
silent as a street of burnt books

Scarlet as a fistful of roses
white as the lips of the food taster
dark as the black supper reveal

Jumpy as a court painter’s eyelid
sleek as a specialist in royal blood
silent as a nun’s heart burial

False as false as teeth and smiles
true as my last word on the subject
dark as six feet of dungeon earth
silent as steel by the frozen fountain


Villanelle the ninth

A banquet greased by beggars
a glass with added glass
a saucerful of secrets

A farthingale crammed with frankincense
a codpiece rammed with cod
a banquet grazed by bankers

A locket drenched in lachrimae
a joint spiced with jacquerie
a saucerful of sanctitas

A honeycomb aglow with hives
a trencher agroan with trauma
a banquet garnished with butchers

A mouth clenched on misereres
a doublet sewn with deathmasks
a saucerful of serpents

A pie stuffed with pincushions
a rack primed with ribs
a banquet greased by beggars
a saucerful of secrets

Villanelle the tenth

My gardens grow with iliads
I sing short triumphs rough endings
odysseys of flight and pounce

Puffed up jumped up blood up jut
of breast and straight for the eyes
my gardens groom iliads

Or a talon’s worth of grip
on the things that pass for knowledge
odysseys of flinch and pincer

Or offerings to the goddess
scats of skin and claw and bone
my gardens groan with iliads

Learn patience for whatever comes
crumbs or the soft head dropping them
odysseys of fang and pinion

Better to soar and scan and swoop
than be judged in the dark corner
my gardens grow with iliads
odysseys of flight and pounce



Copyright © Alasdair Paterson, 2015.