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.]

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