This poem is taken from Stand 217, 16(1) March - April 2018.

Tim Liardet Six Poems
The Chorus of the Fathers
Addresses the Shuqualak Hermit


Give a cup of water, or die for someone.
Learn at last the minus-division, divide

a foolhardy thirteen into a fretful one.
Speak or do not speak of thirteen men

who answered to six where they were trapped
in a crack of oxygen a thousand feet down,

which one end showed as much of their boots
as the other end showed of their heads.

Of the thirteen men who went down
to save the six none of them came back up,

of the six trapped men, one crawled out.
In your solitude, your minus infinity,

you cannot do the mathematics of how
a life of instinct chooses to serve

the impossible decimal point of sacrifice.
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