This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Forest with graves

What wound is this of yours
that you should keep worrying it?

I like it. It tastes of tears & soil, like a boiled beet.

These aren’t even your ancestors.

But that’s half the attraction, isn’t it?
It’s like a revolution unfolding on the internet:
close at hand yet comfortably far away.
The anguish. The comradery.

But this city belongs to the dead.

All cities belong to the dead.
This one has more trees than most.
And I love any tourist spot
where the residents stay hidden
& don’t ruin our game of make-believe.

What game is that?

I sit still as a stone until words emerge.
They form themselves into epigrams on my forehead.

How do you win?

Someone lays a piece of slate at my feet.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. MAN, do you know how to reel me in! The first three lines of this poem, and I was caught, hook line and sinker. I love this conversation with an unknown ‘other’.

    ‘I sit still as a stone until words emerge.
    They form themselves into epigrams on my forehead.’

    Dave, this is like painting is for me. You’ve beautifully and succinctly captured the process of creativity!


    1. Thanks, Clive. I’m glad that resonated with you. I am indebted a bit to Vasko Popa, the great Serbian poet, for the idea of a game with esoteric/impossible instructions.


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