Sorrow Works: A Collection

by Steven C. Davis

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The Parting Waves
At the Time of Choosing
Inner Sanctum
The Trees' Farewell

Cave Dale
'When I am Dead'
Ere We Should Meet
Hurricane Day

New Future
To the Unknown Town (1)
To the Unknown Town (2)
To the Unknown Town (3)
To the Unknown Town (4)

Song of the Plains
The Artist
London my Lebanon
Tibetan Tears
Lotus Blossoms


released August 3, 2014

All poems (C) Steven C. Davis & Tenebrous Texts.
All photos (C) Steven C. Davis & Tenebrous Texts



all rights reserved


Steven C. Davis

Steven C. Davis is the author of Cornix Sinistra and Armageddon Angel, a pair of apocalyptic science fiction novels set in a series of alternate Readings.
He is the co-author of The Heart's Cog Imperative, a dark and twisted Steampunk adventure tale.

He is also a poet and the presenter of the GASP radio show.
He lives in Berkshire and makes a damn fine chocolate cake
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Track Name: The Parting Waves
We stood upon the beach
While the waves battered the shore,
Sandcastles all alone
And shaken to the core.
With pebbles underneath
And the wind in our hair,
Splashed by the parting waves
And stung by the salty air.

We faced the parting tide
And slipped along the shore,
Eroded by the waves
And battered to the raw.
With our feet in the foam
And our hands in the skies,
Never wanting to leave
And tears in our eyes.

‘I don’t want you to go’
Were her last words to me,
Amidst the parting waves
Of the distant sea.
‘I don’t want to but I must,
If I could take you with me’,
But I must walk away
And not let you see.

Battered by the parting waves
Head bowed and alone,
In the wake of the surf
And drenched in the foam.
I hold the pebbles still
And the memories,
Though they cut my hand raw,
Are the sweetest of follies.
Track Name: At The Time Of Choosing
I came to a wood,
Wherein two paths stood.
The sun was hot upon the leaves
And my senses were deceived.

One path lay upon a road,
With many companions to share my load.
T’other lay in the darking deep,
Where not even the shadows sleep.

I would like to say,
That I chose the broad way.
I would like to believe
That I have not been deceived.

I chose the darker route,
Whose branches overhung with fruit.
Past nettles and ivy and holly,
I wondered was this folly.

I vowed to make my own path
Through thicket and hedge and past
The obstacles that lay before me:
The sprawling roots of evergreen trees.

The woods turned into a jungle,
And I found myself humbled.
The solitary path I had chosen
Was only one of many ways in.

Beyond the woods I found,
The riches of a life unbound.
In the jungle I found wonders
And much on which to sit and ponder.

Before the woods my life had been,
About how much I could dream.
About how much I could achieve
When I only had time I could thieve.

I chose the road that lay in the darking
And left with many a sad parting.
My life’s journey already begun
I set my face to the rising sun.

The ground was soft underneath,
A carpet of leaves bequeathed
To cushion my fall;
To help me stand tall.

The wind blew down from the hills,
As I sat and gazed into the rill.
The sun was warm upon my face;
I knew I had found my own race.

But still I tarried longer
While the leaves fell through September
For I missed the light’ning load
Of my companions from the road.
Track Name: Inner Sanctum
Pass through the door and dip your fingers
Into water dusty with spider webs.
Candles flicker in the porch
And piles of hymn books stagger high,
Wearied with incense and candle wax.
Pass into the body of the building.
The light no longer streams through the stained glass:
All is dark and hushed but for a red light
Beside the altar.
Make your way down the aisle
And bend your knee to the sacrament.
He died for us, not pillars of stone
And hierarchies enthroned in Rome.
Make your way into the world
Gaining in confidence as you gain in trust.
You have nothing to fear
Knowing your friends will be there.
Track Name: The Trees' Farewell
The willows bend to the river
Their leaves whispering, kissing,
Their branches enfolding,
Crying their last farewells.

The leaves drift down from the woodlands.
A carpet beneath our feet.
We pass this way in silence:
The forest bears us home.

Into the red gold of autumn
Our straying footsteps roam.
As the shadows lengthen,
The forest calls us home.
Track Name: Dovedale
The church bell tolls, the sun rises and chimes the castle.
With a song in my heart I take to the wing and fly
Along the river where the salmon dance, cross the Lovers Leap
Where the spray fountains into the air as the river hits the rocks.
The sun glorious upon my back, the water sparkles
Like a rainbow, all colours and none.
The earth alive with flowers, the wind scatters the clouds,
Ruffles my feathers as I climb Jacob’s Ladder to the Apostles:
The earth’s beauty below, Heaven’s majesty above.
Track Name: Cave Dale
Give me the freedom of air and sky
And clouds scudding over mountains high.
Peveril castle rising to my right,
Its stone walls broken in height.
Stray sheep scampering up the slope,
Scattered by the passing walkers’ lope.
The rising path meanders between the hills
Like the water flowing where the winter wills it,
Until rising high above the town,
And opening out Mother Nature’s gown,
Rolling hills bedecked with crowns of flowers
And April days with scattered showers.
What’s a summer’s afternoon without a little rain,
In the English countryside nothing’s the same,
As we cross fields drizzled with snow
And watch the startled passing of a solitary crow.
Coming down from the hills to the dark woods
Below, the light passes out of sight
Alongside streams of dark gurgling water
And crickets like a cat’s welcoming purr.
The wind tossing the leaves and then the clouds,
Spreading the dress of night like a shroud,
In the restless tramp of boots on stone,
Of boots on boulder, I’ve found my home.
Track Name: 'When I Am Dead'
When I am dead, do not bury me beneath
The ground to rot and waste, for worms to feast.
Commit me to the fires, the tongues that lick,
The voices that roar, the flames that flicker.
Scatter my thoughts like ashes to the clouds
That nevermore on these hills will I roam.
That nevermore through the woods and fields,
Is there a single place that I call home.
Release me over the Roaches and scatter me
In Castleton and Hope and Eyam.
Distribute me over Dovedale and Wolfscote Dale
And lavish me over Lathkill Dale.
Let no one say I took and gave nothing back.
To the land I give everything I have: I give myself.
Track Name: Ere We Should Meet
The sun blows hot over the peaks,
Down from Hollins Cross.
The grass that bent beneath our feet
Will spring up, and die, and be born again,
Ere we should meet.

Far out to sea the ocean roars
But here in St. Martin’s bay it is still.
The waves that lapped upon the shore
Will rise up, and be cast down again as rain,
Ere we should meet once more.

Upon the hilltop lashes the rain,
But Snowdon is crowned in light.
The paths that over the heights reign
Will be trod a million times or more
Ere we should meet again.
Track Name: Roisin
An aviary of chattering chaffinches
And screeching sparrows.
(No strength but in your mind.)
Their wings shorn, mindless voices
Babbling a torrent.
(No strength but in your tongue.)
Trapped in the cages of their minds
Empty headed, beating their heads on bars
Only they can see.
Far above the cages and bars and wards
An eagle, a hawk, a kestrel
Soaring on the evening breeze.
Track Name: Hurricane Day
With the waves came the wind and water
Piling high, mile upon mile, towering
Into the black sky, until it looked
As if half the world had risen
To fall upon the other half.
The water rose.
And fell
Deadening, deafening, dredging,
Sweeping all before it, scouring the streets
And stripping the sea on a sunny day.

With the wind came the warnings
That were ignored. The water rose,
Swamping the swamp, stinking the streets,
Hijacking the high school. Orleans was overcome
And the world watched, with baited breath,
For the united response that never came.
The city was raised up. Torn down.
O say, can you see, the star spangled banner,
Borne in triumph over the mass graves,
The bodies left buried beneath the wind and waves.

The day will come when the weather breaks.
When the sunny day becomes silent and full of shadow.
When the river reaves as it receives.
The sun will shine cold and dead
And rain will fall on your cheeks
As hurricane day comes unexpected.

You will not see the shadows
You will not feel the rain
Until the storm breaks over you
Until tragedy strikes you.
Track Name: New Future
For three years I worked in a paper mill
Because my parents died in a crossfire on a hill
And don’t I deserve a new future?

For six years I lived with my grandparents
Tilled the land and worked the soil until they went
And don’t I deserve a new future?

I was blind from birth and my parents cared for me
But when they died in a landslide nobody wanted me
And don’t I deserve a new future?

All I want to be is a child,
Happy and free, and a family
That cares for and looks after me.

All I want is a home, shelter
From the rain, a bed to share, toys
To play with and two meals a day.

All I want to be is loved
And protected and cared for.
I’m willing to go to school
I want to learn and grow
And help others so they’ll know
That it doesn’t always
Have to be like this.
Track Name: Kathmandu
The doors open to a panoramic view
And it’s as if you gazed upon something new
As the sounds and sights wash over you
Of beggars crying their wares
Of taxis honking their fares
Of monks shouting their cares
And the smell of petrol and cordite
And the stink of a drunken night
And the sweat of a day’s flight
And the cries of the children
‘You have sweet rupee pen’
‘You want buy something then’
The smell of dust and heat and sweat
And you’d long for something cool and wet
But don’t drink the water just yet.
Tibetan prayer flags flapping
Dust in streets swirling
And the sun in hot streams scorching
The Sandu with orange blossom smile
Offers you his blessing while
Asking with rapacious style
For Nepalese rupee
‘Blessing not free
To those not in poverty’.
A family sleeps in the shadow
Beneath adverts for a western cash cow
And it sickens you to wonder how
The street children of Nepal
With begging hands below the wall
Are forced into prostitution and all
The temples here have statues of gold
And the people don’t live to get old
But that’s just the mysteries of this place untold.
Cows lay down in the road
A tuk-tuk roars past with a heavy load,
As you set out upon the pock-marked road.
Track Name: To The Unknown Town 1
I walked four-score around
The ancient town.
The doors were open the walls broken
And dust scattered upon
The ancient town.
The glory days are past
The ship has broken its mast
And beached here upon
The ancient town.
I disturbed the dust with my passing
Barely trod the surface
As I passed through on my way
To some place else, away from
The ancient town.
The sun beat down
A crown of neglect.
In beauty decayed
The ancient town.
Ancient and shrivelled, they watched me
From the doorways of
The ancient town.
I have been forgotten, but I never forget
The ancient town.
Track Name: To The Unknown Town 2
Old men, like bearded crows,
Hunched and stooped,
Shuffle past.
The wind strips the streets.
Tattered newspapers on the wall.
A radio blaring in the silence.
Gathered round the chessboard
With nothing else to do.
Giggling schoolgirls run past.

Old children in the street,
Play with carrier bags and hoops,
Chased with a stick.
Their raucous voices raised.
Namaste from the shadows.
Gasoline and coca-cola.
Hands dipped in bowls of rice and curry
And glasses of rakshi.
The sand scours the street.
Track Name: To The Unknown Town 3
Her Doric columns tumbled,
The ancient kingdom reduced.
“I was once what you held dear,
But by time was I seduced.”

Aged by weather and wisdom
As the world passed her by
She sank into poverty
Never more to catch your eye.

Her pride remains in the stones
While her streets have become the beach.
“I am falling now but once
Was not out of reach.”
Track Name: To The Unknown Town 4
I came across the dusty terrain
From the land of concrete and glass,
To a kingdom parched of rain
From a world of wonder past.

The alien in a strange land,
At home in grey skies,
In a place of blue skies and sand
And all-smiling eyes.

I felt like I didn’t belong
In the ancient city of the east,
Where I could do no wrong;
Where I should have been the least.

They made me welcome
And I didn’t have the words to thank them:
They offered me rakshi and rum
And I sat down beside them.

They took me into their homes
And what little they had, they gave me.
I am only a stranger here, choosing to roam,
Unused to such hospitality.

They told me of their lives
And I could only sympathise.
The husband crews, in the fields the wives
Labour on with bent back and laughing eyes.

Their faces lit up with a grin
When I offered what little I had.
They filled my glass to the rim
And refused to take anything.

All I could do was gaze
With wonder at the richness of the poor,
And by beauty be amazed
On the desert beach of a distant shore.
Track Name: Song of the Plains
Song of the plains and the white horse running
The white horse cantering
The white horse galloping.
Song of the plains and the winds blowing
The wild grasses blowing
The wild grasses buffeting.
Song of the plains and the eagle gliding
The eagle soaring
The eagle descending.
Song of the plains and the nations praying
The free nations chanting
The free nations singing.
Song of the plains and the wolf howling
The wild bison roaming
The coyote calling.
Song of the plains and the descendents leaving
The young brave departing
The young man farewelling.
Sing of the plains in the city of men
The concrete sidewalks
Where no horse is tied.
Sing of the plains in the concrete and glass
The tarmac road
Where the bison once roamed.
Sing of the plains in the dull night
When the yellow lights
Hide the moon’s face.
Sing of the plains and a moment of solitude
A moment of stillness
A moment of silence.
Sing of the plains far from home
Where the wind blows free
Where the sky is free.
Sing of the plains
When the yearning is in your heart
When the world overfills your heart.
Track Name: The Artist
‘I take the colours that are offered:
Inks and pastels, crayons and quill pens,
And I sort them into categories.
The Some are worn down
Pupil But some improve with age;
Some tones are repetitious, some rare,
But I take them to a journeyman or master,
For them to declare “this is no good;
That one may fetch a price”.’

‘I take the colours stacked on the shelf
For me to decide what is worth
And what is worthless.
The Some I hold to the light
Journeyman And run my finger along the spine.
Others I mark up and place upon the shelf.
I dream of finding that elusive blend
Of tonal wealth and depth and age
That marks well a book of great worth.’

‘I take the artists that volunteer,
And explain about light and shade and age.
I teach them of colours hues and seasons
The And how to assess the written page.
Master My canvas is the shop
Wherein they express themselves:
A colour scheme here, a suggestion there,
To paint the walls with books
And fight poverty with profit.’
Track Name: London My Lebanon
A monkey in a God skin waves a chain above its head.
‘We will fight them on the beaches’ becomes
The thunder swell of lap dogs clapping.
A red sparkler takes to the sky
Too early for bonfire night
Ascribing the arc of the London Eye
In glory over the Thames
Lighting up the whole of London
Until completing its arc it falls earthbound.
A tower of cards a domino gallery
Disrupted and scattered tiles like paper hats
And the ricochet of Christmas crackers
Laying waste to Harrods and Marks and Sparks
Trafalgar’s Square revels in the ruins
Of a New Year the same as the old.
Snow deadens the sound of gunfire in the playground.
Ash rains down from on high.
The rough beast slouches towards Easter
As the country is crucified
As Blair declares war on Lebanon.
Track Name: Tibetan Tears
If I speak, I am suspected.
If I protest, I disappear.
If I try to flee, I am apprehended.
If I own a flag I am imprisoned.
If I believe, I am beaten.
If I worship, I am whipped.
If I call myself Chinese, I am censured.
If I call myself Tibetan, I am tortured.
But they cannot silence the sky.
They cannot refuse the rain that falls.
They cannot stop the seed from growing
And the lotus will bloom again.
Track Name: Lotus Blossoms
Lotus blossoms
Scattered on a lake.
When will my love come back to me?

Lotus blossoms borne
By the wind to the mountains.
When will she be free?

Lotus blossoms
Strewn on the path.
When will my love walk this way?

Lotus blossoms
Whispering in the trees.
When will my love hear this?

Lotus blossoms
Soft upon her skin.
When will she feel this again?

Lotus blossoms
In the pages of a book.
When will my love read this?

Lotus blossom
Scent of jasmine and saffron.
When will my love know this?

Lotus blossoms
Like nectar on the tongue.
When will she forget her pain?

Lotus blossoms dance
In the flickering flames.
When will my love speak her name?