Lily Blacksell


Cockcrow Crown

Then shall the realm of Albion / come to great confusion: / Then comes the time, who lives to see it, / that going shall be used with feet.

I’m off, I’ve featured, been used,
and I’m really going now, Lear,
today and gone tomorrow. Going
to bed, sod it, to Bedfordshire,
not that I’ll get there by noon.
There’s no fool like an old fool,
and tah-dah, soon there’s no fool
at all. Save that part of your heart
that pities me, look to see if
it’d rather love. You know me,
Lear, I am not sorry. Sorry
never was my name, but what
has that have I become a fool, aloof
or l’oeuf. Ha. as Cordelia would say –

yeah, see she might well say oeuf,
although it’s not her mother tongue,
and her father’s is all chewed and bitten
but I’m saying nothing further nuncle,
it is not my score to settle.
I’m whipped for holding my peace,
but look, I do not let it go.
All of Albion’s confusion
is spilling, spewing in the Channel
so cast me off now, captain, I’ll wash up
on dear C’s shore. She’ll save me, stop
the aqueous leak in my poor head
(something dripping there, ever since
the fontanelle). Give me an egg,

dear, give me an egg please,
there’s no end to what I can do.
There’s a trick I know to stop
a horse from rearing. Ha. Sit tight
as it rises on its hind legs,
hold the reins in one hand and
the egg in the other. At the highest point
(you may think you’ll fall)
crack the egg on top of its head.
The thick, dribbling feeling, the shards
of the shell will convince the horse
it has fractured its poor skull.
It will not rear again, no. Not now
it thinks its life’s a miracle.

Life may be a miracle but a sonnet’s
a cell and I’m writing all over its walls.
If you’re reading this, Lear, your fool
was here, weaving a crown from thin air.
See my words, see every letter
as suns to love better than you did
your daughters. Ha. No windows
here, and now air is thinner,
so let me light the darkling
(you can die from darkness, darling)
and anyway, eventually everything
is cleaved in two down the middle.
They told you you were everything
and so you’re no exception.

Except you know well where madness lies,
it’s a path we trod together. My sonnet
is our festering resting place
where sadness gingerly lays its head.
There comes a time, you’re looking
at it, you’ve lived to see the day
the mouse fell down at one o’clock
your fool an hour sooner.
Nuncle, Lear, I wish you were here
to try this thing I’ve woven. It’ll fit
though, closely. I know your head
by heart – cloven, fused, so almost
hollow, but for the thought of us. Well,
there we are, there I am, that’s enough.


Lily Blacksell‘s pamphlet There’s No Such Thing was published by ignition press in 2018. Her poems have appeared in Magma, BOMB Magazine, Boston Review, Bath Magg, The Emma Press and elsewhere. Lily has an MFA in poetry from Columbia University, where she was also a teaching fellow. She lives in London and works at Southbank Centre.

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