4 poems by Emily Bilman

THE ARMED POET

Homage to Wallace Stevens, the poet thrice armed 

with faith, language, and Law

The language of the ever-drafted ephebe, contingent 

On his perception of the sun as the sun before 

It becomes Apollo or the custodian of the poet’s initiation

Into an ever-changing language leaves the poet 

With a paradox. Expressed in innuendos, derisions, 

And metaphors, that’s his war between the earth and the sky

A hero’s death on quasi-virtual war-fields hindering his tears.

Our chrysalis-minds, double in vision, since early childhood, 

Contain objects as objects and project them while in maturity,

We reach for their metaphysics while we stand on a misty mountain.

The poet returns from the flux of the ocean and is refreshed

Within a moment’s epiphany while walking among the city’s 

Buildings like the reflections of Blake’s Jerusalem governed 

By order and grace where gang warfare is a treason forsaken.

In the city, the poet loves a shapely woman as a mother eternal

Who gently conveys a laser transparency to her children,

Granting them a self-burgeoning into reality through corporeal

But flawed words within the peace of a kept room.

The poet’s sublime fiction, the Imagination, renders the magnolia 

With its fallen leaves, fresh through childish candour. He hides

The desire of what he lacks but invents till infinity, his evasion.


Two poems on William Hogarth whose etchings of the ills in 18th century London can be an analogy for the pandemic-stricken society of the 21st.

COUNTERPOINT

In Hogarth’s forlorn night, the drunk freemason

who forbid gin in town stumbled home

through the old cobble-stones. The bonfire

in the centre burst into flames when a horse

carriage with its huge reversed wheel crushed

down on the fire, glowing like a volcano.

The fire warmed the homeless huddled

to sleep under a rough badged shelter

like new-borns in a maternity. Counterpoint.

Some terracotta dishes stood aligned on the roof’s

edge containing some patients’ blood like the molten 

candle-wax of snuffed-out candles drawn out 

in the same vein as the hair-shafts of his client’s

nose by the barber-surgeon. In dire curiosity,

the beacon-boy glimpses on the fire-struck street.

THE GIN EPIDEMIC, 1751

A mother’s syphilitic leg is separated from 

a dying poet by the dog of despair. The skeletal

poet personifying Death stares blindly before him,  

his ballad “The downfall of Mr. Gin” lying near him. 

Clasping the breasts of his phlegmatic mother 

with his small legs, the gin-soaked toddler topples 

down the banister to his untimely death. 

The Covid-19 pandemic now sprawls

through the dark entrails of our cities

like the cocaine-crack for which passers-by 

are violated for a few gratuitous wanton pounds. 

In Hogarth’s pawnbroker, a woman trades 

her tea-pot to buy the gin that will gnaw 

her vital organs like the acid that corrodes

the caustic incisions of Hogarth’s etching.

APPERCEPTION

The interferometer that chronicled terrains

in relief, conceded mapping the ignorant anger,

empathy, pity, and impotence I had felt

as a young girl, when you, father, were

harshly threatened by exclusion.

The letter I wrote you on the boat

travelling to the Aegean island remained

unachieved due to high seas. I remember

writing the letter while waves surged into a storm 

thinking of you and my grandmother, 

a tall Caucasian lady, who kept black 

moleskin journals in her native language. 

Our close bond kept me in the security of home.

The boat journey turned out to be 

as unsettling as my fugues’ fantasized 

mutability. Like the currents that moved the seas, 

the letter was again amended when my son 

suffered trauma as a fugue-child 

and my husband was transferred 

to a city with a foreign language.

The letter that brought the passengers 

back to the port outside the capital, father, 

remains lost. Ironically, my architect boyfriend 

whom you had met presaged I would

solely become a lay-astronomer.

The telescope would temper my apperception.

About the contributor

Dr. Emily Bilman is a widely published poet who teaches poetry in her Stanza group in Geneva. Her three poetry books, A Woman By A Well (2015), Resilience (2015), and The Threshold of Broken Waters (2018) were published by Troubador Books in England. She blogs on http://www.emiliebilman.wix.com/emily-bilman

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