bent before the altars in your city the ash sleeps silent in priest-like silhouettes. cinder shadows rest below the duvets, and somewhere someone hacks their gurgled lung, all a carcass from their stomach, it’s this plague. they say (you hear them say in every breath) they say (you watch them say in every dream) they say … apollo’s seeking vengeance for his death(somewhere, you and he- … the city is your city like the echo of your city is the swaying of the sea, plagued by memory or men you see plunging to the depths(deaths) you do not need to sleep to witness nightmare. still, and he-(, blood rises in my throat like blind mercury, consciousness stopmotion. his carcass forms the ashes in my breath, my two pupils deep like night-times in their shade, I do not need to sleep to witness nightmare. nor can I.
Felix Stokes studies Classics at Brasenose College, University of Oxford.
This is the winning piece (category ‘poetry’) in the Oxford Scientist’s Creative Competition for Trinity Term 2020, theme ‘viral’. The judging panel consisted of the senior editorial team at the time of the competition.