Here between the tumbled stones was the door:

Tired men passed seeking warmth, hot broth or a spade

Woman with a sickly baby in hope

The occasional visitor for a dram and stories.

Now the tourist wanders inside

The wet wind flails without a whimper.




They eat a little slowly, staring a short way ahead

To the battle they will lose tomorrow.

Each man prepares to do his job

The hidden guest at the meal is hungry.




The Beast was last here eighty years ago

That is the print of its foot in the crushed house

It has returned a hundred times, they say;

Your office is to be prepared and wait.

These drawings ought to help:

This one is by the man who saw it last

This reproduction of a temple frieze

Is thought to be the oldest: all the others

Are in between. I’m sure you’ll notice

Nothing is common to them but the size

And a certain presence. Maybe you’ll spend your life

Waiting for an enemy that never comes

And maybe for an enemy that comes.




I saw her turn a corner from the alley

At that old inn she left a note on the board

I thought I heard her when the rainstorm rattled

The window sashes and the wood outside

Chattered and sang to the rhythm of the rain.




The man I think you know took us into the room

I happened to pass a mirror, turned and looked

And saw an old man with a bloodstained baby

But when I wanted to show it to someone else

Instead a woman was singing very quietly.

The doors when opened led to other doors

The drawers pulled out to infinite other drawers

You sought an explanation but the man had gone

And then we couldn’t agree his height, his age,

If he was bald, the colour of his jacket

And if he ever was there at all

And then you did not know me any more

And I did not know you except as a light

I had seen seeping under a door on a dark night.




I am alive in the stone field

We are the rising of the moss

On fallen stones that lie like the last army;

Hint of salt in the wind over sandpaper desert

Light in the dark, dark in the light will nestle

Something in the fallen leaves rustle

Though they begin to rot; in the black lake

Stars are revealed; the star-warm sky

Rises to meet us, to repair the break.


copyright Simon Banks 2012


This poem seems to contain several figures that reappear in different poems – the ignorant, dutiful soldier; the guardian waiting for something that may never happen; the mysterious female figure just out of sight. You could call them archetypes, though I’m not sure they’re real archetypes in that they may not be common to other people and cultures.


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  1. When I read your poems Simon, I feel there is so much more for me to learn….I particularly liked the Guard archetype….does liking an archetype reveal something about oneself?

    • Thanks, Neel. Very likely. It means something to me and if it strikes something in you, that reveals something about you too.

  2. Simon, I like the headers within the poem to break up the images and offer unique perspectives. As though looking around and taking snapshots.
    “Waiting for an enemy that never comes/ And maybe for an enemy that comes.” resonated with me. Although we can try to prepare for the future we are not able to fully control it or foresee what will happen.

    • Thanks, Christy. I use sub-headings like that when I have something I think just about hangs together as one poem and was written in one go, but has different parts that are quite loosely connected and I hope, but cannot demonstrate, that they follow some kind of sequence. I also tend to this structure when the poem is very long, as with “Six Strands” or the as yet unblogged “Empire”.

      • It works well in this structure Simon. A good way to break up the lines and keep the reader’s interest. Not that you have any problem with keeping my attention with your writing!

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