Bright Star, Elegy for David Bowie, by Graham Allen



His lips recoil from the taste of the real.
His eyes look through to the earliest stars.

Outside your mind is his best imagining,
he has paved our footpath with tiny pearls.

He smokes his cigarette like an ivory pen,
his fingers caressing the shoulders of ghosts.

He wears his suit like a mannequin would,
only with more perpetual purpose.

Beyond his profile down by the lakeside,
where heavenly metal pianos play,

angels in fur coats stand to attention
as the skies collapse into orange flame.

The man with the clipboard said he was dead
and all of our colours faded to dust.

The shrill pantheon of matinee gods
shrugged their shoulders, as if passing the buck.

Everyone wept and put stones in their mouths.
News men and news women read elegiac verse.

The internet stuck up a tearful emoticon
and old men buried their hands in the earth.

Far away beyond blue-filtered shorelines,
where devils leaf through prohibited texts

and children dance at midnight unattended,
his spirit rose like a passing comet.

And we said, as all the museums caught fire
and politicians wept into their fists,

he is as far beyond us now as he ever was,
bright star making a halo of the darkness.

We could hear the new music of the spheres.
You can listen to his eternity from here.

It says:

Do everything with joy.
Do everything with love.
Do everything as if the world was still fixable.
Raise your head above the crowd,
then help the crowd to rise up too.
Smile brilliantly into the future.
Smile brilliantly at the camera of your death.
Imitate the life of the sun.
Imitate the lives of the moon.
Honestly face your demons down.
Shine like a light that has no source
save for its own irrepressible desires.
Invent a galaxy you can live in.
Reinvent what it means to have a face.
Burn brightly. Burn beautifully.
Burn through the inconvenience of time.
Burn through the inadequacies of space.
Burn through the lone splendours of philosophy.
Burn like every fresh-faced new kid on the block.
Burn like the force that sweeps through the universe.
Burn your way back to the star-stuff that made you.
Burn like the singular point of all energy.
Burn like an absolute image of release.


Graham Allen is Professor in English in UCC. He was the winner of the 2010 Listowel Poetry Prize and has been short-listed for various prizes, including the Listowel First Collection Prize 2008, the Crashaw Poetry Prize for 2013, The Fool for Poetry Prize for 2014, and the Strong/Shine First Collection Prize 2015. His epoem Holes and his collection The One That Got Away (2014) are published by New Binary Press. His new collection, The Madhouse System, is due for publication this summer.