This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Danger, falling gravestones

My too-grave stone cannot stand.
Its bull’s-eye cross is tired of target duty.

Stones are such somnolent creatures —
they know nothing of the pleasures of flight.

It could topple at any time, in any wind.
There’s no telling which breath will be its last.

It rides the turf like the ship at Sutton Hoo,
waiting for the sky to cave in.

I thought I was rid of such becalming
when I traded my corpse for fire’s fey wings.

Series Navigation← Boneyard Dogs← Import/Export
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    1. Thanks. I saw the Sutton Hoo artifacts in the British Museum, and they’ve been on my mind ever since. I decided not to be too explicit about the surf/turf pun — brings up unwanted restaurant connotations!


  1. I love “fire’s fey wings.” What captures me about this photo is its irony. What is the danger the yellow tape records? The all too contagious touch of mortality? The possibility that, bending to make out the mossy carving on the stone, one might be dispatched to the sod, pressed flat?


    1. Yeah, you’re right — lots of irony there. Unfortunately it’s not as sharp a photo as it could be, but what the hell. Glad you liked the closing phrase. I can’t decide whether it’s too melodramatic or not.


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