Ace G. Pilkington

The November Selected Poet is Ace G. Pilkington

Please feel free to email Ace at: aceandolga@yahoo.com



In your surcease, success,
To receive the peace of passiveness,
Conceive the pearl of emptiness,
Believe in worlds purposeless:
What symmetry of shadows sets you free?
What solar sail across the Milky Way
Delivers dreams and turns your night to day?

Out beyond the atmosphere
A finer stuff than gossamer
Tugs us toward the stars,
And so we look beyond our lives
To worlds which can’t be ours,
Across a sea of scattered light
That's burned earthward for years,
The focus of our lonely hopes,
Our ecstasies made clear
Through lenses sculpted with a care
That washes them like tears.


I now sit down to write an epitaph,
To transliterate the graph I fear to grasp.
With words I flesh the facts and fit inactions,
Relearn the faces and re-burn the passions.
Who would have guessed their egos were so fragile,
So self-obsessed yet wholly suicidal?
Might we profess they did not think at all
But slowly answered old enzymatic signals,
We could then call their species bioprogrammable,
Their hopes and gropings no more than biodegradable.
Clearly their essence would be inhuman, unmechanical,
And their extinction, while pathetic, was thus inevitable.
So why should I see their eyes through my mind’s sight,
And hear the words of murder’s burden in my delight?


Now I’m old enough to bare the truth
Without the golden lacquer of the flesh;
At my age a story’s bones have a sheen of their own.
He was only a second son then, younger brother,
Haunted by a barbarous yellow dog he didn’t want,
Large as a lion and that same heat-filled, dust-layered color.
What he wished was his brother’s roan horse,
Leaping, strutting, caparisoned in honor; you proved
Your courage riding the wind that blew off his back—
Hotspur roaring to the wars.
Instead he owned this lumbering, wagging, somnolent dog
Like a patch of desert sand, with paws heavy as stones.
So the robber Salvini attacked me.
Oh yes, I knew him by the nose, and a beard slick as an otter;
I was a young poet then, the harp just beginning to glisten,
With two gold pieces coined from words. The prince’s dog
Came rushing, like a hot breath across the sea from Carthage,
Booming as though he were a cracked bell or six hungry gulls.
The prince behind, swearing, sweating, laughing
When he couldn’t help it, shouting at Salvini to stop,
At me to fight, at the dog to eat us both or give it up.
Salvini decided I must be Mephostophilus or Orpheus
(It’s hard to tell with the uneducated).  And left us
(My devils and myself) to the purgatory of the afternoon sun.
I made the king’s son famous with that story—
Made us all glorious. I’ve never had any song the audience
Loved better: a dog, a prince, a poor funny robber,
And the poet who was almost robbed but royally saved,
Was there for them to clap on the shoulder.
In weeks the prince was cheered in the streets 
And second-rate ballads were sung.

Ace G. Pilkington has published over one hundred poems, articles, reviews, and short stories in five countries. He is the author of Screening Shakespeare from Richard II to Henry V and, more recently, Science Fiction and Futurism: Their Terms and Ideas and Our Lady Guenevere (both 2017). He is co-editor of The Fantastic Made Visible and co-editor and co-translator of Fairy Tales of the Russians and Other Slavs. An active member of the SFWA, he is a professor of English and history at Dixie State University and Literary Seminar director at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. He has a D.Phil. in Shakespeare, history, and film from Oxford University.

Ace has a new book available HERE