Aidan Semmens

Six distressed sonnets from The Book of Isaac

for them many living on the earth
the sway of famine & those that flee
destroy the sword; the dead will be deported
as dung, unmourned, for the earth be desolate sorrow,
threw down the cities, would no one be left
even to the laying of the ground, will give fruit trees
& who will pick? grapes will ripen
& who walk on them? Adam we will see
as another to hear his voice, is the city
will be televised on ten & two in the field, hidden
in the thick woods & in crevices of stone;
as olives cling to a tree through winter,
a few shall remain living witness to the sword search
& machineguns distort the house of prayer

in shul & bes-medresh we occupy these text
this connection we, fully on the longing,
to our fathers (yea, & ye mothers also),
the cross-over canyon from the dream, cannot rise
in the bilateral frightened dreamer’s life
to our fathers’ fathers’ desire: it is not we so are interested
in physics & mathematics, rather this Einstein
is the sign we crave of present life to look
that uses grave & upwardly from earth’s naked eye
to use the star report the heaven blood so far,
a sun’s strange glimpsing which eclipses,
a strange flash of shaded helium, picture of bent light beams,
removed up to now from the dreary oppressive
of life, dreams float in air, shtetl visions of Chagall

the input viewpoint takes truth ignorant & in disguise;
savage, the deceit is the revenge
the redness of the finger plunged in wine
under cannibal ritual of the masticated body
assumed son of the author served as bread
is transposed on the blameless in their midst
which is pricked out for humiliation,
malicious fiction of good poisoned innocently
appointed to the role of suffering in reprisal
punctured for degradation, the evil surrogate
here the unreliable narrator conjures Cyrus
tolerant prophet, doyen of the virtuous
elder of fair founder of return, the temple’s sponsor
in Damascus that the Christian should wear yellow

& masquerade of revellers; you will carry out to Purim
in proportion to death as a man who brandishes his sickle
beyond the head of a boy, which with hood & bearded
does represent perhaps a rabbi or unwise elder,
eliminates the procession, do not tear
your eye from the body which is severed,
dismembered hatred in Kishinev –
wooden walls & peeling colour of room,
wood combustion smoky stove & the bare floor
robbed, devastated mother & ravaged,
dead child torn; gives up, possessing their tear unwept –
nearby the bridge, in the road, in the crossing,
in the mud by the river ritual prayer of Rosh Hashanah
is observed: the water takes all, even so the sins

no wise ruler the shepherd of his flock?
the farmer of stock placing his animals to mate
after the individual tendency release
which does not consider their mutual love considers decrease
of development after emancipation
in liberation will not later have defeat
who did not know how to influence
the archaic dissolution of the cell
of the commune of composite family became the evil of day
in the peasantist regarding will decline in the vill
of these archaic pillars with the deep regret of age-long
despotism of the elders began unendurable
woman of championed fight for individualism
to so use the term Michailovsky adopted

blindly believing concrete truths, absolute & release
Moshe, the soldier & the poet
breaks the second instruction, ark
of our spoiled understanding, our holiest things
befouled & profaned, our strong made weak
our glorious house conjunct, level with our desperation
the grapes ripen & what will they tread?
the sway of famine & those who escape
you with blood’s hand, your foot fast to make slaughter
am the pebble will be falling, the feast crescent moon
chilly wind the stump will expel the house desolate
objection of his wry smile illusion
Moses did not write the show he was lying
in sky’s kingdom similar to the exact ground

Aidan Semmens read of himself in Jacket magazine in 2002 that he 'has long given up writing poetry'. He has since had new work in print and online in Shearsman, Jack, Great Works, Shadowtrain, Stride, Free Verse, Blackbox Manifold, Likestarlings and Jacket itself. He is a sports sub-editor for the News of the World in London.
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