In Memory of Christopher Hitchens

christopher hitchens

This is a poem I had on the excellent but sadly now defunct The Literateur online magazine (actually, it’s still there)… now it’s here too.

In Memory of Christopher Hitchens

What instruments we have…

I

Snow,
On the sixteenth of December it was wet
Yet settled, and soaked the pavement
Like a strip of sheet held across my face,
While the day’s iron strapped me down –
Not to suffocate in the news of his death

But drown.
Down I sank and sat beneath the tree
Of his collected words. The wind had stopped,
Albeit temporarily. Though some birds
Twittered with high-pitched bile or syrupy respect,
There was unsung relief also in those branches

I suspect.
Irrespective, the landscape here was sweet
And nervous-fresh; more Alpine was the view
Than Ocean Bed, but lacking in the warmth
Of human flesh, the stink of cigarettes
And whisky; pleasures one partakes of

Then forgets.
Let’s call Death the final loss of Memory
In fact, and Memory the one real weapon
That we have: that’s the bloody tragedy –
Always – a great repository has gone.
Our arsenal is reduced. But the dialectic

Goes on.
Frozen statues terrorise the market square.
Wind will blow the passions who knows where.
Not quite so proud though, Death: the heat of our
Humanity is where wild words well-flung go,
Awaiting generations. Not afterlife perhaps,

But afterglow.

II

The light and dark of arrow shower rain;
Kissenger, Wolfowitz, Mujahedin.

Bosnia, the Falklands War;
The keyboard, the cocktail bar.

Mythos, Man the storyteller;
PG Wodehouse, the Ayatollah

Earth, receive him; World, your loss –
You were not consistent, he was.

III

We are keepers of our own museums: you must judge us on our filing.

The old warrior rides into town on a bloated mule, spitting and swearing.

An All-American family around a coffee pot await the man who killed their son.

No interval exists between the thought and its pixelled, 3am translation.

The sycophants will fall in line, their minds are small – they must agree with someone.

Janus debates his older face, locked in mutual disgust and open warring.

The temple gallery is ever-open. Cerberus is almost mad with barking and caring.

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