Toby Martinez de las Rivas was born in 1978. He has published two books with Faber & Faber; Terror (2014) and Black Sun (2018). A recipient of several awards, he has had work published across America, the UK and Europe, including in Poetry, The Paris Review, Poetry London, The Poetry Review and Rialto.
I turn into the second half of my life and there is
a hill, and at the foot of the hill
there is a garden, and in the garden there is a rock
with people sleeping in the torchlight
and shadows in their eyes.
I shall stretch forth my hands and another
shall gird me and carry me whither I would not. John 21: xviii
Among the hawthorns and the thickets;
where the sparrowhawk digs its beak in the crop
and the down blows West like snow. Tobe,
Sleep. Pull the dark ornaments over you and sleep;
face up, sightless, the black water lapping
at yr clavicle and the pit of yr throat.
Sleep like a polity, like a govt, like a dead city
with its lights still burning in the dark,
the streets empty of opposition,
and neither wind nor rain, nor thunder nor tears.
Sleep like Europe, a lifejacket
bobbing in the swell, a searchlight,
a siren, a trainer on the sand.
Sleep like the children in the lost estate of yr life;
like the West, like a swift on the wing;
the little birds that sing;
like the bodies of the lost in Hell
where the Lord sailed on the second day like a comet –
and it is written that they stirred for the first time
in a thousand years and looked up
at hím from their beds, their eyes like deserts
and like villages in the desert
where the hawk moves in silence and nothing
is unseen; neither husbands, nor money,
nor the children in the wedding party that dance
in monochrome between the verge
and the cemetery.
Let this be a requiem for the dead
in the Valley of the children of Hinnom
that wander in darkness with pillows of stone.