Ian Hamilton LOST SOULS





All our souls are contained within the glass
And when it is broken they fly out and flutter about



Hold one in your hand
It feels like a magic wand
There's power there,
Like you get from holding a weapon,
Or something that will take you
To some other place



The tube flickers
Then comes on.



See them at night
through the 32nd, 49th, 50th floor window
of your apartment.
Not glowing like incandescent lamps used to
But cool.
Giving out light but not much heat.



Fluoro tube flickers
Then goes out.



Ionic glow
Electron flow
Does anyone know?



Willy-wagtail calling incessantly
Through the early hours
But all you see is a glow
Beyond the black silhouettes
Of far away things.



Positive and negative
Contained by glass



What's inside those coatings
Of 'warm white', 'daylight', 'cool white'?



High on a pole
In a haze of humid air
Some time between
Midnight and dawn
On a lonely road
A light.



A moonlit dome, said Yeats,
Disdains all that man is,
All mere complexity.
A fluoro tube, says I,
Is quite another thing.



In the deathly quiet of the night
They buzzed.
Row after row of them.



Inside the strong glass tube
Gas waits to be ignited
Then electrons will flow
Ionic glow.




They lie
Some of them unbroken
On the rubbish tip



On the 32nd floor opposite
One square of light
In a great black bulk
Against the night sky.



Second Law of Thermodynamics
All things tend towards
A final state of whiteness.



Hold it, the white glass tube
Feel its smooth cool form
Two prongs sticking out each end
A magic wand
Wave it, point it



Imagine a single fluoro tube
Strung out
Across the space of your skull.



They found one intact
On a great mound of broken bits and pieces
From an age long past,
A long glass tube with two prongs
Sticking out each end,
The only unbroken thing
There in the rubble.
They smashed it to see what was inside
And all our souls flew out.