Two sonnets from The Book of Isaac

bent writing, assiduous pen in hand,
beard unknowing as mine, a man
dead decades before underlies
by one eighth my genesis
in a twilight era from rabbinical composition
under secular thought logic
to weigh the weight of fire
pioneer of mill-ground clothworkers
farmers in a barrier of road escape
from hard land sweaty life, heretic
suffers no holy writ gladly
in vernacular of old places, the family left
to control of the secret police & he returns
pose, the unknowable, Minsk 1907


radicalism is not your mistake
your tub is a poison & the stink of later
is very deep dark & all unseen
the name of a flower is the name
of something else, respected citizens
First Guild merchant of hereditary noble
it is difficult to dismiss corrupt ideas
Thermidor & the rotten smell exuded
a moral concern for the betterment of all
when conflict between leaders & location
each side accusing the other of conspiracy
of the revolution’s betrayal
the privileges are granted bourgeois experts
& tillers per plant from the soil & stood as one


[Aidan Semmens, former co-editor of Perfect Bound magazine and winner of the 1978 Chancellor’s Medal for an English Poem at Cambridge, read of himself in Jacket in 2002 that he had 'long given up writing poetry'. His poems have since appeared in print and online in several magazines, including  Blackbox Manifold, Shearsman, Shadowtrain, Stride, Great Works, Free Verse, Likestarlings – and Jacket. His first poetry collection, A Stone Dog, was published by Shearsman this year, and his second collection, The Book of Isaac, is set to be published in 2012 by Free Verse Editions.]

Copyright © 2011 by Aidan Semmens, 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.