Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by Patrick Davidson Roberts

Lilburne’s Prayer

Oh god; guide of hand and tongue through pamphlet, pillory and prison
who walked with me from Kineton, washed me in blood all the way to Marston,
who spoke within my Elizabeth as a happy band of offspring
and never held my temper whether facing mob or king.
God that cast the fortune which would not let me leave aside
the imperfections of paradise, though you know how long I tried,
do not weigh the lives of those whom I led into the ocean
against my surviving to see their graves, to hear their last words spoken.
Oh god that still spoke to me when all others locked me away,
do not leave me at this last, but as in prison with me stay.
Pardon all the failings and, worse, those that I never tried.
Cast away my refusal. Cast away my pride.
Do not curse my wild hope that in hell I looked to build heaven,
and for what I have spoken in Mackem, Lord, may I be forgiven.

Admiralty Arch

They are taking down the scaffolding around Admiralty Arch. They are
pulling down years from around the stonework and uncovering beneath.
They are opening up Admiralty Arch as at the opening of ancient tombs,
as at the clearing back of a long-buried tunnel trapping the trains inside.
A crowd stands back, thronging the Mall, waiting to see what’s within.
Plank after plank is withdrawn and the walkways peel back and away
until nothing is left but Admiralty Arch and the right-hand-side tunnel
when you’re facing this way that leads beneath to Whitehall. They are
excavating Admiralty Arch and I must be the first to glimpse the
find so am straining myself past tourist and cordon to stare into that
passageway. Nothing. Clear sight. A passage cleared for concourse
and conduct. Fuck. Even now I expected to find something like the
trapped of Pompeii, to see two people caught in the cloud of each other
in that tunnel, pressed against the wall, their dark forms and night, that
night, of joy captured; caught as me, though even I must admit I knew
that, to look at us now, you’d never know.