Ali Lewis

The Great Disappointment
after a probably imaginary painter

‘Leadership is disappointing your own people at a rate they can absorb.’ – Ronald Heifetz

Since I’ve been reckoning with grief
I’ve been looking for a painting I remember
of a peasant, miserable on a hillside,

seconds after his rapture hasn’t come,
his plough already sold to a neighbour

for a song as a show of faith and a joke
to crack in paradise. But the closest

I can find is a poem by Donaghy,
a Simpsons scene, and a Puck cartoon of Millerites

on their roofs in ascension robes just before
the climbdown and the false dawn

God designed to expose the doubters
with their stores of grain, while the faithful,
tested, thinned, get ready for the real date.


Living Without Moon

I looked at the moon but there was no moon
only a telescopic circle of black

a black circle on black inlaid with clouds
like a wall where a picture doesn’t hang

or a seamless mottled half or crescent
strange as a friend without glasses

or a no-shape no-thing: the unthinkable
after-imagining I ask myself not to seek

when the whens I can’t see it
coincide with the times it’s not there.


Ali Lewis was born in Nottingham in 1990. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2018 and his pamphlet, Hotel, was published in 2020 by Verve. His poems have appeared in magazines including Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review and the New Statesman. He is associate editor of Poetry London.

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