Algo Poetry-Behind the Lines

A Book Too Far

I never realised when setting out to write my second collection, Unreconciled Doors, that a story of a personal journey would have so many Biblical references.

It was not deliberate, but here, Behind the Lines of the 27th poem of the collection, we are treated to a work that began with a rumination on a borrowed phrase from the Book of Ecclesiastes:-

“Before the fly lands in antiseptic ointment”

The proverbial (pun intentional) “fly in the ointment” has its origins in Ecclesiastes 10:1. It became a phrase that symbolises a small defect that can spoil something.

This is not the only phrase in the book whose authorship some attribute to King Solomon in his old age.

In Western Culture, the work has influenced the following works (Wow!!!)- The opening of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 59, A line in T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland, the title of Hemingway’s first novel, the main character in a George Bernard Shaw short story, the opening quote from Oliver Stone’s Platoon and even a Pete Seeger song (Though the Byrd’s version is better), and countless more works of art!!

But back to the poem at hand.

We get a fly’s eyes (multiple of course) view of proceedings as he finds himself in a “situation he should have seen coming”.

Essentially our tragic winged hero, an insect sized Icarus, lands in ointment that is about to be used in a religious ceremony :-

” It was his purpose, an unintended destination,

To be the salve on the forehead of the newly sainted”.

Language is fascinating sometimes isn’t it?- the words anoint or anointment coming from ointment ,as this was the preparation/application of an oil or “salve” in a religious ceremony. Salve itself is intriguing, the root of “hail” which became “hello” but also lead to the word “salvage” or to “save”.

Our buzzing buddy here, however, has not been saved from his stereotypical demise.

The Fly has become firmly (maybe that’s the wrong word) stuck in the ointment and his ending will be saintly but no less sticky:-

“So blessings and broken wings be upon thee”,

This “minor irritation for the saintly”.

I had to give the fly and his end of existence a grander meaning for when he started asking questions in fly heaven and I hope that our stuck subject would appreciate that he was part of a bigger plan:-

“All god’s creatures great and small

Know not the reason they will fall”

P.S. I like to think that the Saint Peter Fly has three pre-prepared speeches for flies that end up at his gates- soup, swatted or salve.


Unreconciled Doors is available to order in Kindle format now on Amazon for just $€£ 0.99

If you like and if you can, having being delighted by this daily dose of dissonance, maybe Buy Me a Coffee please ,or even better, order Unreconciled Doors, so you can read along with Behind the Lines.


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