Three Poems

Robert Crawford

The Mithraeum

God-mulch. Apollo. Coventina.
Snapped-off moons and pre-Christian crosses

Pit the tor. Comeback king,
Midas-touch Mithras, his moorland shrines

Dank caves or knee-high proto-kirks
North-west of Hexham, waits

First for microbial, then feather-thin,
Then skull-thick, unscabbarded dawn

Butchering the bull-black darkness,
Cutting Christmas Eve’s throat.

Mithraic puddles freeze to a golden crunch.
Roads’ black ice catches the light.

Hollowed out of the altar’s back,
Space for a ceremonial lamp

Set to shine through the holes that petal
Mithras’s sun-round head,

From sheep-pee daybreak to sodden gloaming
Keeping the faiths’

Fire lit through ear-burning, toe-nipping cold,
I am the Light of the World.

The Bad Shepherd

I am the bad shepherd, torching my flocks in the fields,
Feeding them accelerant, hecatombs of wedders and tups.
In pits or pyres all are sheared and shamed by the flames.
Every sheep is a black sheep in that fire,
Penned in by heat, conspicuously consumed.
If one escapes when ninety-nine are burned,
Hunt it down. Best now my lambs are lost
So sheep are shelved, or vaporised unsold,
Hanging in charred clouds – hairst hogs, maillies and crocks.
Cloned palls cover Cumbria. Shadows slur Lockerbie’s drumlins.
Cling, braxy, scrapie, tremmlin, pindling, all
Diseases of sheep go huddled together in one
Beltane burn. Ca’ the yowes to the knowes . . .
I am the bad shepherd. Follow me.

George Bush, Environmentalist

Fuck off, you tired, you poor, you huddled masses!
Toxins R Us. We give you greenhouse gases.