THE LAST BEACON
My friends , I was left here
To rot, or perhaps go on show.
I’m told how many
Of the museums now bid for me.
But then, I who belong
To all and no-one tell you
- Do not believe that for a dollar spent
You could begin to learn my language.
Nor for a million times that
Could you crack the code: it’s to do
With ethics. By then, my friends,
They will have defused me.
Mankind will do as mankind does. See!
Already you question my authenticity.
My age means not a damn
But this much I’m compelled to say: -
For over a century I’ve stood
And performed for you. My situation?
Forget it. A beacon’s a beacon...
Even time’s creed recognises that.
Humanity, for a price, constructed me.
I became a sea fortress
With a purpose. At that time
It was so easy to idealise.
My inner cogs were built by you –,
So too, my outer dome.
But I, lost in some wonderment
Supplied the muscle to keep me standing.
Still, for many a year
I resented my forlornness –.
The sea mass murmured
Only death songs or depletion.
I... your elemental guardian
Looked longingly from
Coast to coast and
Loved your lands with fond passion.
Once, when my furnace died
I believed the grief
Would surely kill me. But
The storm-bird took pity on me – and
To pass the hours until repairmen came,
She volunteered stories
Of the other worlds – explaining
The customs; ever so odd!
For the very first time I heard
Of strategies. Of Warring. Of peace.
I could not familiarise myself
On how brother turns against brother.
I asked that the tales be silenced, but
She’d only just begun. Then I noticed
How brine could be changed to blood:
It surged within my brass helmet.
And while I wept my metallic tears
I saw them descend to the rocks below.
I don’t mind admitting my confusion...
My simple love waxed steadily colder.
On waking, I told myself
I’d dreamed a bitter dream.
The lands that I so yearned for
Were not only safe, but kind.
As for the storm-trooper? Why, she’d been
Symbolically demonised by me!
I’d been vexed by no more
Than my inadequacies and low vision.
Since I was given a new generator
And was at once restored,
I gave praise
The only way I knew how;
Thus... having lit both shores again
With my mighty candle-power
Self esteem grew
In proportion to your distant horizons.
However, I who am programmed
Never to sleep, continued
That same dark dream no matter
How much energy I pulsed out.
And believe it, I’ve not ever worked so hard!
My range extended
To the end of the sky-line’s skin.
My own life-light, in exhaustion, dimmed.
In a turmoil, I sent forth my message.
Never could I have
Imagined my carrier’s reply.
The storm-bird... ?
No! She was no more, the albatross told.
A light... no more!
Far stronger... no more!
Had blotted out both bird and sky.
It’s not up to me to continue
Your parable. I am ‘man made’
And like my makers
Am on the way out.
I offer no solution. Remember...
I’m just a beacon.
A name’s a name, and
It has a way of sticking.
Some say I’m wise. If that’s so,
It’s a wise-ness I can do without.
Understanding too much, like
Too little, sends one a trifle crazy.
I have my companions. The gulls
And their relations. We have
Removed ourselves from your states
And half states
To rest beneath the Southern Cross
And ask that you
Leave us alone, here. Here
In the realm that gave you all.
THE LAST BEACON is a performance
poem. Community Publishers ‘Print
Shop’ printed a limited 100 copies.
Stefanie Bennett has published several volumes of poetry and had poems appear with
Mad Swirl, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Message in A Bottle, Bijou Journal, Illya’s honey, Shot
Glass Journal, Jellyfish Whispers, Twice Upon A Time and others. She has acted as a
publishing editor and worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/
Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Queensland, Australia, in 1945.