by John A. Griffin

It was a time of thunder and rain,

when the sun left with a raptor

on wings of sudden night.


The sky was bereft like a stitch

dropped in the knotted life,

never to be gathered again –


A gate swung shut on rusty hinges,

an empty field was a cyclone

of wild grass, a tree split in two,


over the hills the last light faded

like an encore after curtains,

between the rushes where eels


swarmed in a tangle, a swan

lay dying, neon algae thickened

and pulsed there, reflecting nothing,


the calm waters shivered like leaves,

as if plugged into some tumult,

and shocks reached distant shores –


only a tethered bull stood stock still,

all white and steaming, his muscles

twitching in that sudden night.



Flames float on the waves like damned souls floating

on the Styx. They don’t burn bright in the night,

and they go wherever the tide takes them.


The moon is not on the waters, even the lights out

at sea are off and the dark deeps are all empty –

The village too is empty, its people line the shore,


where they watch and wait – all across the ocean

as far as eyes can see the dim flames draw near,

too many have died already to know what multitudes


may come – Damnation may be on the sea or is the sea,

yet none can fathom what everyone fears the most –

‘A holocaust is coming home on the dark waves.’


One by one each flame will rise into a pillar of blue light,

shimmer momentarily, turn golden-red, then vanish,

as one by one all souls will sleepwalk into the dark sea.

John A. Griffin was born in Tipperary, Ireland. He attended St. Louis University and Washington University (USA), where he read for his PhD. He currently lives and works in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He sometimes blogs new work at


February 2019

© 2020 by The Esthetic Apostle