Literary Yard

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‘The Tempered Flame’ and two more poems by David Francis

By: David Francis

The Tempered Flame

Only you know me

only you have analyzed me

only you have suffered
with me

know my pros and cons

others have dipped slender ankles
in the pool

others have flashed thinned silver
like a cheap tambourine

only you can leave me

only you can have me leave you

others have blessed or cursed me

but only you have kept the flame

only you have forgiven me

only you have refused my sorry’s

only you have banned me

others have been fickle
like a weak magnet

others have kept my name on file
just in case

others have stood close
or kept a distance

they have touched me
or left me alone like a parched desert tree

others have disappeared without a trace
or pestered me for favors

they have put me in a freak show
for free

others have paid and
dispatched me

others have said goodbye from afar
when tracked down

others have haunted me
for outlived using

others have stayed away in winter
and laughed at my spring fever

others have not been worthy
of autumn nostalgia

others have mocked me
and tested me and bested me

others have sprung me from traps
by their absence

others, others, some, they…

but up until today
since I had the good luck

of being graced by your
sweet and attentive presence

yes, verily

only you have stuck with me


Under the Skylight

It’s raining; and all
I can do is to count the
raindrops and miss you,
not knowing what month it is,
subtract two since seeing you.

At dawn I lie still,
counting again, trying to
think of other things;
it’s a different season now—
there’s only four to a year.

The wind is howling:
is it a message from you
or in spite of you?
I live in between brackets:
your last and your next email.

Will I sleep tonight?
Eventually one does…
but a profound sleep
only one thing could produce
and that is not yet to be.

My heart is too full:
bursting, massive, bullying;
my heart is empty
without its object—these words
don’t describe my ache for you.


To Cuddle the Sun

I can’t do anything but I love you
how do I know this because in winter
when the sun emerges like a jutting
from the bas relief of uninspired life
you are drawn to it and you bathe in it
it fills you with the vitamins you need
and in its glorious light you exult
during which everything is possible
and you pray it won’t go behind the cloud
the cloud where you came from life-withdrawing
into a silence and ordeal of waiting

but when your name appears it is the sun
to stare into it with the naked eye
to cuddle the sun is my ambition

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