Synoptic Posture

by Mitt Ann

(i) Synoptic posture

with a spine crackly bent                                                                                                        
supporting a sprawl of 
crushed prayers; 
straightened fists clutch, 
smooth fingertips, now wrinkled,
with the smell-touch of wooden crumps -- 
dented grooves of old bookshelves, my quarter-eroded palm cross – 
windswept scraps of wood-dust; my eyes, fixated sight, now
wane to pray till the end:

(ii) Liturgy of Person-Pray

Lord, quieten my heart and hold my expense
Today, I bear witness
to a light, oh, pale as 	bride; 
veil fray in the wind in a split sea of red wine;
O God, who will make my feelings straight:
you say ‘Get up’ in a cordial whisper
and then, in a peal of thunder.

What does a poor poet have 
              but his hands and mouth to steal and sip?
O, the blemished sweetness of life and world; 
              the youth pastor draws his discolored binds.

Grey letters on Word is still the work
Grey is the sky of the land
For I take it, grey is the path
Till heaven’s end:
Clouds with an alcoholic’s belly
unchristened rain, lukewarm
fall from paradise. 

The social worker in the image of
              a pastor. The God in the image of 
a thief.  The apparition of these faces on a
mirror, side by side, our faces blur.

(iii) Heart-nudged

Heavenly diaspora, spreading fan-like
in the ochre sky. St Peter, 
patron saint of zeal, and sin; in sepia, 
sapphire sky. 
              What does it matter which faith? 
I expand beyond Christian principles, never Catholic. 
A bruised-green disciple, or 
                                            a teal-like friend.
Yet, love is redeeming, sweet,
              at the metal gates of heaven;
isolated and majestic; heart-nudged, 
You, strange congregate, by words-on-page,
we meet, pray on.

1. Line 10: Cf. “My father used to sing / Asked me on his death / To sing it to the end” in Klyuev (1999). As reproduced in ‘Nikolai Klyuev’s early works as the poetry of “social Christianity”’ by Svetlana Seryogina, 2020, pg. 4.
2. Line 14: Cf. “hold, there’s expenses for thee”, Act 3 Scene 1, Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
3. Line 16: Cf. “Today the sky looks like a bride, / Who blinds us with her garments white, / And from the gateway to the gallows /The golden scroll is being stretched.” In Klyuev (1999). As reproduced in ‘Nikolai Klyuev’s early works as the poetry of “social Christianity”’ by Svetlana Seryogina 2020, pg. 4.
4. Line 18: Cf. Wordsworth, William. The Prelude (1850). “To God, Who thus corrected my desires” (l. 1363)
5. Line 18: Cf. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (ESV)
6. Line 20: Loosely inspired by lines “Now my song will resound/ Not with fathers’ lament: / It will scatter around / Like a thundering clap” in Klyuev (1999). As reproduced in ‘Nikolai Klyuev’s early works as the poetry of “social Christianity”’ by Svetlana Seryogina, 2020, pg. 5.
7. Line 20: Cf. “peal of thunder” Revelations 4:5 (ESV)
8. Line 24: This is a direct quotation from Valéry, as qtd in Poetry – Introduction, her sentence was “He [the poet] has nothing but the coarse instrument of the dictionary and the grammar.”. – Chapter 2, pg. 117
9. Line 26: Cf. Derek Walcott (1984), Midsummer IV “when stores draw their blinds…”(l. 19)
10. Line 28: Microsoft Word, colloquially known as Word
11. Line 29: Cf. William Carlos Williams, ‘Sicilian Emigrant’s Song’, “Gray is the sky of this land.” (l. 11)
12. Line 33: Cf. Derek Walcott (1984), Midsummer I, “ “volumes of cloud” (l. 1); Midsummer II, “unchristened cannibals” (l. 19)
13. Line 36: Cf. Bob Dylan, Desolation Row, “Phantom of the Opera in the image of a priest”
14. Line 38: Philip Larkin, Arundel Tomb, “side by side faces blur” (l. 1)
15. Line 51: Cf. ‘Nikolai Klyuev’s early works as the poetry of “social Christianity”’ by Svetlana Seryogina 2020. Through reading Aleksandr Gorsky and Klyeuv, Serogina surmised that “For Gorsky, Klyuev was “right at the gates”: “But he had to enter liturgy and projection” (Gorsky 2018, p. 56). The metaphorical expression “to be at the gates” stems from the Gospel, namely from the parable of the narrow gates to the kingdom of God (Luke 13: 24–29 and Matthew 7:13–14)” (pg. 9). Please see actual article for bibliographic references. Yet, the point of this citation is to say that this analysis gave me inspiration for the final few lines in my poem.

Mitt Ann is a writer/poet based in Singapore. Influenced by T. S. Eliot, Derek Walcott and Marianne Moore, his works have been published in various literary journals. His works can be found on

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