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The Night before Battle                                                                                                   


He needed the wisdom of ancestors

and knew the past is very close if you

approach it in the right way


with him the young druid with hair shaved and

gilded headwear inhabited both the male and female 

burned sage and advice


he held a round polished surface up, reflective

though not as a still pond, but a blurred soft passage

behind the boundary to kin


he could see his face in a softness of his grandfather’s

war braids and greys. All around, the fire light and fire dog

outlines jumped


in a language he tried to interpret, patient, stoic and still

in a trance of charcoal, aware of the moment

and breath of life.


The druid’s chant, sweet voice of a robin

at once delicate and powerful

tells him he is the tutelary,


his champion sword of metal, horn and bright enamel

imbued with the strength of earth, stag and rock

is sharpened with a heart shaped whetstone


his blade flashes red and gold by the hearth

in readiness for the conflict

death always in the moving shadows.



Flowstone Grotto

The submerged bones were found

at the back of the cave

narrow, anxious, tunnels of heft

opening to Cathedral heights.


The cold of the dead permeates

water drips, to the city of stalactites

and stalagmite reflections, that glisten

in candlewax splendour.


Flowstone cascades the cavern end

into a deep pool, of clear water 

of the coldest unfrozen clarity

that greens the way, to deeper paths.


Will the Ferryman ask for payment

to cross and unlock this mirrored portal

to the reverse, where souls are stored

and our universe held


or will a madman, in an oil slick skin

with a cyclops miner’s lamp

plunge, into history's depression

to discover extinct giant elk antlers.


Lisa Lopresti is a working- class poet from Banksy’s Bristol, regularly broadcast on local BBC Radio, widely published including Mono, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Acumen who described her slim-line pamphlet ‘Birdsong and Nectar in the Silences’ as ‘slightly uproarious’:

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