Books by Brent Meersman

Latest: Rattling the Cage (2021) A Childhood Made Up (2020) Homo Odyssey (2018) Sunset Claws (2017) 80 Gays around the World (2015) Five Lives at Noon (2013) Reports Before Daybreak...

Brent Meersman


Dark continent

Flying at night south over Africa,

small rural fires dot the void,

slowly linking up,

until they burn as great, electric freeways.

Out of darkness came the light,

demanding a great sacrifice

for the illuminating service it bestowed,

upon a people too subtle and fair-minded

to be recognized as civilized.

As ancient tablets fall to dust when discovered,

so truth only fleetingly shows itself,

before it crumbles away

and is remembered but partially

in stories falsely made fact.

Know now, that this righteous light

cast shadows darker than the primordial night,

shadows where reason could go to work, undisturbed,

exterminating millions.

For darkness is only this: truth unrevealed.


See how the birds all sit,

facing the wind the same,

on wires, roofs, great tit, blue tit,

see how the birds all sit.

They may be free, but never think on it

and with the steeple cock align their frame;

when the wind is strong see how the owlets sit,

facing the wind the same.

Sonnet to the unsaid

To say three simple mere words, I love you,

It seems is far too much for most to say;

To heave that hesitant phrase to where it’s due

What is it they feel they must give away?

Such silence among young lovers is enough

To snap with doubts and wild disappointment

Their clinging embrace to instant rebuff

And words unsaid clang like bells: annulment.

Still ringing speechless in their ears, they part

And wait, I love you is shocked loose from some,

Too late of course now having lost its art,

Or usually the words never come.

The way we are to our own footfalls deaf

Or how your voice has changed over many years

Recall you said those words, but in what clef?

No matter, we no longer have such fears.

And walking hand in hand appear, every

now’n’gain, to drag the other forward, gently.

I say: This is the story of Ophila.

Ophila is truly beautiful.

If you dare to run your fingertips

across the hard calluses on her feet,

you will wander over continents.

If you touch the palm of your hand

matched against the sole of her foot,

you will know that she has crossed

a great geography of languages,

on bare feet shingled as dried mud,

dried as the tongues in the country to our north.

If you dare to look closely at her knees

you will see the pinched faces of children

with long black eyelashes beseeching you.

If you press your lips to these her dark bruises,

there you will receive the great cries of famine in the land.

Her knees are grazed bare and bleed.

I told you Ophila is beautiful.

Her eyelids are swollen from vigil.

She does not sleep but sleep walks upon bedrock.

She has lain in the shadows of many roadsides.

She wears no wrinkles

only the pockmarks the gravel has left

embossed upon her face,

Ophila is beautiful.

In the early frosts,

before walking the many leagues to school

she rubbed soap into her;

If you gave her shoes, she will only lose them.

Black as alluvium,

Ophila, the beautiful.

She has walked on earthquakes

in the fossil lands of the Great Rift Valley;

tracked across the smouldering petroglyphs of the Sahara,

traversed the magnetic storms around the equator,

climbed over the jawbone of the Atlas,

and passed beneath the open volcanoes of Nyiragongo.

She has attended the pounding canon salutes

of colonial conquests and at liberation celebrations

with barefoot crowds thick on public squares

waved a million new little flags

then ground them underfoot

composing a heroic grand mosaic.

Wars have parted their bloody waters

like the sea of reeds

and closed again behind her

once she passed.

And after all this, she can still feel

even the dying breath of a mayfly.

Beautiful Ophila.


We hold your breath.

Incredibly, she survives

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