DAY FIFTY-FOUR – Martyn Crucefix

Cave dwellers

Look at what they hollow
for want of better
from the tufa rock
with the tick of picks

over years to create
this series of boxes
this ambient temperature
to last almost forever

then under attack
from others—imagine—
who have even less
so family and chattels

holding their breath
in the labyrinth bolt-hole
they hope to survive
to go on selling slag

though at crippling prices
far down the valley
to raise the lady’s house
its huge fire-places

its built wooden roof
an up-turned fleet
of turrets and roof-tiles
of gleaming slate

yet she grows bored—
they say—she gallops
side-saddle up the castle’s
spiral staircase

the horse wide-eyed
as its shrieking rider
for the thrill of it
climbing as if pursued

yet the beast cannot
return unless hooded
backwards and cajoled
by those who serve her

and if any of these
I can imagine myself
cowering in the dark
or with fire to flush them

on the shrilling stairway
or blinded by the hood
or a whip in hand
there’s proof I’m not dead


Martyn Crucefix’s recent original collections include Hurt (Enitharmon, 2010), The Time We Turned (Shearsman, 2014), A Hatfield Mass (Worple Press, 2014). He has also translated Rilke’s Duino Elegies (Enitharmon, 2006) – shortlisted for the 2007 Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation – and Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus (Enitharmon, 2012). Daodejing – a new version in English will be published in 2016. For more visit

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