Decline and Fall

Marbled gold crowns the Caelian hilltop,
Paterculaean piety splendour-poised;
The stout city of wolf-born fratricide stands,
Temple-strewn, a metropolis found on military bedrock.
A blade-born state upset by blade-born grief.
Aenean Hesperia besmirched through civil war,
The Tiber clogged with tacit secrets of Empire.
Domus Aurea now houses human slaughter:
Strife for an unstable throne.

Rancid Republican remains of Augustan dreams, an
Island depravity belching spores;
Fly, float, fertilise
the mothballs of decaying aristocracy.
Fungus finds filth:
Fiddles while it burns;
Latches, leeches life.
Once tangible; regressive slime pools the Stygian shore.
Foundations tremble, rotten-cored and useless:
A city of matchsticks.
Lunatics with fire.

Dominus noster, planetoid godfather,
risen phoenix and
Saviour from bitter ashes.
Jewelled slippers hold sway
over split-pea provinces.
New lines, empirical spirit-boundaries;
Echoes of Hadrian.
Iron rule begins fearful stability, greed out-prices sense.
Divisively united four corners of the world in arms to shock them,
From ruin to the
Cross of Byzantine dawn.

By William Taylor

The Fall Underground

Living away from the sun,
Falling down rabbit holes
The way we do

I am surprised how cheerful we are.
We reached terminal velocity
And left it behind an age ago.
In the dark, we might as well be inert,
Static in air but for parachutes of hair
Flowing up toward the sun like water.

The hollow stomach the second before the plunge
Has become constant now.
Light is a stranger to these icy abysses.
In the dimming eyesight of underground exile
We can just make out
The important things:

The sound of sorry words to rushing ears
Dampened in the midst of walls of wind;
An overflowing hazel well;
An alien reflection.
Then there is what is:

A declaration of friendship, or limited endeavour,
A restricted desire to link together;
Fat tears leaking from a squinted eye;
Your face iridescent in mine.

Do I need say more, to tell you who I am?
I am that which lives forever
In your rich wheat-fields of gold hair,
Or in the wise foxes of Elysium’s hills
Until you die.

Need I say the hurt?
It has dulled.
Years of the same
Have hardened it so,
And a soft heart coated in ice
Taken with it.

I would pay a thousand souls’ worth
Of a thousand lives’ happiness,
For you to comfort me; please
Touch me so I may burn again.
I grow lonely. It is cold down here.

By Joshua Teo



There’s blood on my shoes
Why is there blood on my shoes?
There’s blood on my shoes
and I want to go home
I tried to wipe it off
Clean it away
but it’s on my hands now
and it really won’t come off
I want to go-
Who were they?
Why did they try and attack me?
Or maybe it was me
that went for them?
I can’t-
There’s blood on my shoes
and it won’t come out
There’s blood on my shoes
and I want to go home
I don’t even know
I don’t even know where I am
Stumbling in the dark
Dark footprints behind me
Blood trickling from a wound
I try to remember
Remember where I am
But I just-
I want to go home

I suppose that’s out of the question

By Fergus Doyle


At the picket fence

Mary wears a woollen dress and loiters by the never ending wall.
Peering through the steel bars she spots the sharks
shrouded in their monochrome. Tall, dark and petrifying.
Still the soldiers with their laser Tasers bait her to try and cut the wire.

Rainbow dreadlocked women whisper calming thoughts.
But beneath the anger ferments, a cooking pot
of frustration. Her aggression close to boiling point.
The ice hard muscles of the guards show the neon artificial glow.
Glycogen stores waiting to be used. Seven years of training
in scrubby backyards build up to this moment.
A four letter word needs more protection than a new born baby.

Mary has brown hair and steel grey eyes.
Showing far too much leg
for a peaceful demonstration.
The guard on night shift stares.
His eyes move up and down,
and down again,
falling for her shape.

She glares indifferently pretending not to see the bulge
of muscles beneath his jacket. Later she won’t forget.
The modern day Romeo and Juliet of the peace protesting world.
He sees the fog which clouds her eyes and covers his knuckles,
hiding the letters etched onto his skin. The other guards shoot him
with their eyes. They’ve seen it all before.

With a derisive snort she rests her eyes on the placards,
feeling the heat of fifty sleepless nights burning her
in the silence.
But whoever heard of love sprouting at the picket fence?

In five years the call comes to arms.
He takes it in his stride.
He fears no harm.
Tattoos her name on his arm
from that note she slipped him
after the alarm.

“Intruder in the missile base.
All guards to stations please”.

By Georgie Tindale


Each week The Student Review publishes a collection of poems about a particular topic or theme. For this week’s theme, or to submit a poem, go here.

(featured image by Michael Foley Photography)