• Mike Gould

Bohemian Tragedy


Today: a poem. And a brief apology for the image.

All I want to say this week is that I’m embarking on writing another collaborative poetry collection with my old friend John Pownall. The subject, the climate emergency, requires urgency but I’m afraid the poetry might not keep up. And what I really need to do is to spring into direct action. But this doesn’t preclude the poetry.


In many ways, this would better suit a December blog, hence the snowy graveyard scene, but while the pen is hot and the poem urges itself into being, let’s give it life.


Fuel, from the Old Latin, for ‘Hearth’


It is a bleak evening in Bohemia.

The king is not much taken with his Court;

And while the wolf-hounds doze before the fire,

Wenceslas steps out into the white beyond,

Tracing a line across a blank manuscript.


Against the snow, the black branches

Are crotchets and minims, which rise and fall

In the bitter easterly, blown from Russian steppes.

And no bells sound in godless churches

To break night’s gloomy pall.


Perhaps he never stooped to gather wood,

But I like to think he knew that fuel was goodness,

Conflated fire and hearth with light,

Yet even he could not shine enough to see

Into the minds of those who murdered him.


Fuel has travelled far,

From the virtue-shaming of a martyred king

To combustion engines, and a deadly forest floor

Incinerating a town called Paradise,

Where no birds sing.


On the tinny speaker in the shopping mall,

Carols sound sadly like the souls

Of long dead stars in the limbo of the sky,

Who watch the hard rain fall,

On discarded cards which frame

The memory of snow



Copyright M Gould, 2019

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