3 POEMS by / Paul Stubbs

Edited by : Anthony Seidman

Return to the Cosmological Cross

(or first song of a new theology)

‘Between me and him there is the thickness of the universe—and that of the cross is added to it.’ —Simone Weil

—A miscarriage of is, and a burial of now,

(upon a planet littered with the flesh-gloves

                       of prayer-machines abandoned…)

         where deity after deity

                       they fail to outlive the cross

                       dragging an always

                                 cobwebbed pelvis back into the void.

(the unlimited map of the cosmos peeled back

now from the unrealizable reality of God’s skull)

as an avatar, frozen in mid-prayer, for aeons,

                       he begins

finally to thaw and awake

                       into a body unlooked-for by faith…


theology is swept clean of its own theological cross-spiders

to re-age them, gods…

                       amid the first, second and tertiary

                       phases of man’s new death

                        (the trinity,

three spouting jets of blood that arch into a basin)

as a listless, almost lobotomized Christ emerges,

from the chrysalis

                        of the It-Christ’s never to become God…

                       before the still-to-dry polytheistic head-moulds

                       and Christ’s true face are dragged back suddenly

                       through the bloody and far-off celestial branches

of whose burnt tree?

—Until reaching it finally this end-point in the universe:

                        (the first yard past theology)

                       when Christ’s body biblically?

                       it flies off past the wafer, and survives

The Great Longing

‘…turn away, so that you may be turned towards.’ ¾Meister Eckhart

—Not them, the blessed, but an even holier race

praying and praying themselves into a stump,

            into whatever now can

            no longer experience loss…

into the last fistfuls of a cross free of Christianity and wood,

so as to yearn and yearn

            for what, in God,

            is no longer God;

(only the durable, diaphanous, deep-space skeletons

of the resurrected awaking finally to forceps, frost, ice…)

As the holiest, from the last tombs in the universe,

they arise, like Plato’s spies, vacant-eyed, despised:

            but unable to

            ever be judged.

The following poem is part of a whole sequence of poems based on the ‘rough beast’ of W.B. Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’.

The Beast and the Cosmological Argument*

Desperate to refute Aquinas’ and Newton’s notion

that every object that moves must have first been

                       moved by something else,

you, you rest, a theorem, or insect-pulsating shank,

                       between the potentiality of moving

                       and the actuality of ever doing so.

(in this way negating the Argument of the First Cause

by pre-conceiving yourself prior to the birth of God).

Likewise, when deciding to disaffirm the ontological

Argument of Anselm by inching free of God’s pupa;

                       but how? and to what degree?

                       well, by first confirming (to yourself)

that the death of God

                       would not (you decide)

                                   create a vacuum in substance,

                       but only in fact an uncaused

                        (animalized?) mutation of it.

So, seeing that you, and you alone, are now the greatest thought

                       any living extant thing can think,

                       you decide to prove it, by going further and

                       annihilating substance forever,

yes, but how?

by both devouring and then regurgitating your own carcass

                       (to reinstate God’s existence

                       immediately as merely a half-

                       digestible substitute for matter…).

While nothing whatsoever in the universe around you

now can move, or stop, or even begin existing again,

                       until you, finally, you finish

                       eating it the last remaining

page of the Summa Theologiae as, in Bethlehem,

the Five Ways of proving God’s existence

                       are, by you, reduced to NONE…

                       on account of the (still?) non-traceable

                       contingency of your birth.

British poet Paul Stubbs is the author of six collections and of two books of poetical and philosophical essays. A selection of poems translated into French, Visions de l’outre-monde, was published by Hochroth-Paris in 2019. His poems and essays have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including The Bitter Oleander, The High Window, The Wolf, The Poetry Review, The Shop, as well as French literary magazines. Paul Stubbs has also written a play, The Messiah, and English versions of two classical Greek plays, Euripides’ The Bacchae and Aeschylus’ Prometheus Unbound. With Blandine Longre, he has translated texts by Victor Segalen, Jos Roy, Pierre Cendors, and Ernest Delahaye among others. He has been invited to read at the National Poetry Library (London), at Oxford University, at the Seamus Heaney Centre, at Kings Lynn Festival, and at various venues in New York and Paris. He also wrote the introductions of several books and has co-edited the bilingual literary magazine The Black Herald. His latest poetry collection, The Lost Songs of Gravity, was published in 2020.


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