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After The Reading

Felix Dennis
October 25, 2004
Glasgow, Scotland
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I had read my forty poems
   And signed the books they bought,
My wrist as sore as a toothache,
   My temper tiger short.

I thought of the pizza waiting
   Backstage, and stood, half-pissed,
When I felt two fingers sliding
   To freeze about my wrist.

Far, far too young for the wheelchair,
   A box of books held tight,
She tilted her face and mocked me:
   “You’ll never get home tonight—

But could you just sign these for me?”
   “Of course I can,” I said,
Lifting the box to the table,
   Wishing it were my bed.

And while I scribbled she whispered,
   And something happened then,
The room and people faded,
   The ink froze in my pen.

She magicked away the city
   And chanted away her chair,
The table had turned to a valley,
   The roof to perilous air,

While she sang me a song of warning:
   “We stand outside of Time,
But the gods of earth grow jealous
   Unless we speak in rhyme.

“For the kingdom of their seasons,
   Is built on melody’s dance,
I charge you, here– be silent!
   And put your faith in chance.

“I have seen the ends of empires,
   (Of that I shall not tell),
I have stolen kings from cradles
   And sent their souls to hell.

“I have rendered women barren
   And stayed to dry their tears,
I have spat in the face of chaos
   Nigh on a thousand years.

“You are nothing to me but a poet—
   But a poet a child shall read,
I have not the power to stop her,
   Only the power to plead.

“Write nothing that might torment her,
   Of fear she will have her fill,
Yet in her hands she will carry
   The world for good or ill.

“She is barely more than a toddler
   And you will die ere long,
But a line you leave will touch her,
   Would you sell the world for a song?

“Now plunge you hand in the water...”
   She formed a lake with a wave,
But the water was only a wine glass,
   And the book a barren grave.

I was back in a hall in Glasgow,
   The girl was nodding her head;
She was only a lass in a wheelchair.
   “Thank you,” was all she said.