Two poems by Paul Raboff with Illustrations by Joakim Raboff

From William Blake’s “Songs of Experience,” 1794


Tiger, tiger dressed in prison bars
He wears like slices of old scars
Baked in Blake’s acidic orange,
Sulpherous white flares from the liniers
Black as iron, rolling out in molten spouts.
He carries his prison on his back:
His lusts and hungry strangled habits
While padding in clawed slippers.
These bars he can never bend or break
Beneath he stretches and condenses,
Winds and unwinds in tight sequences
Under counter-rhythmic supple skin.
Born there he cannot go out or in
And leaves there only in his roars
Up then down the guttural ranges
The tones melted in his rages.
His eyes are furnaces with open doors.
His yawns the hate of gaping sores.
His teeth the admirable necklaces
Would like to string around your arteries.
This incendiary bearing tiger
Has burned Blake’s forest down to cinder.


Walking on the “Straight Road”
To Damascus to the “Straight Gate”
Saul received the new name, Paul
Meaning, “small:” hard on the self-image
Until he began waking at night
From the strangling effects
Of the narrowing on smaller Paul’s
Still swollen soul of both road 
And gate. And then he understood:
God won’t widen the gate,
Won’t deviate the Roman road’s
Economical dimensions for comfort’s sake.
The only recourse was to shrink
Increasing the space for freedom.
But in time it was even easier
To take his mass and dissipate.

Joakim Raboff is a visual artist and film-maker. Born and raised in Santa Monica, he currently lives and works in the ancient city of Vejbystrand in Sweden. Click here for his website.

Categories: Fiction/Poetry

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *