Three Poems / by B.T. Joy

Body of Poetry 

            Quiver-wart and black 
feather-hiss, cooing. The burls and boxes, 
unfledged tree-nests, quirk and chipper. 
            Soft oedema. The way drought makes 
for selfishness on the soil-level, 
or caution in a blue tit’s brain. 
            Our earliest ancestors heard thought 
as an auditory hallucination. 
            Lichen never 
forgets the way south. 
            With undeveloped eyes the olm 
can find a coin-sized fissure in the rocks. 
            There are messages 
growing up everywhere. 
            Hyacinth explains 
to the badgers that it’s spring again. 
            Or a shadow might say 
when the raptor is near. 
            After reed-cutting, dry stalks as long 
as Darwin’s finger, counsel against danger. 
            I want poetry 
to be this way. 
            I can get on board with surrealism 
but I never want to write a word 
that means nothing.




Commenting on Natural Beauty Is a Vestigial Form of the Colonial Rhetoric

Snail-shell is beautiful 
like a hammer-whacked brown nail. 

Cornflowers are beautiful, and liver spots, 
and cuckoo spit froth on the goose grass. 

Rain, dry hay in round bales. Dragonflies,
all wing and tail, midge-hordes are beautiful. 

One oat grain, ear slit, listening for God can open 
the mind’s frilly mouth

and when Jonah was thrown into the water 
the whale gaped like a trumpet vine,

as though the sun had slipped into the sea 
plankton shone like blue-green opals in the light.

Nothing wants to be itself more than when
air is bright with wind the shape of fire. 

Though, I suppose, it’s fallen out of fashion
to say there’s enough beauty in a caraway seed 

to keep Kabīr brooding for years 
to fill Hāfez’s entire divan. 

And yet there are chrysanthemums 
in Bury St. Edmunds

where a middle-aged couple consider 
relocating to the Highlands, 

for the Cairngorms and all 
their natural beauty. 

It would appear then the meadow-white 
day on the wings of Suffolk butterflies, 

the landscapes of Gainsborough and Constable, 
are not enough. 

Beauty, as always, is somewhere else, 
more natural, more primitive.

Wildcats fizzing through the mountain paths. 
Quaint, antlered pub-rooms miles from the deer-roads. 

Grass-fields made red by wet sorrel 
and grouse, like black fans, lecking on the lake shores.




Totally Done With Finals 

            She’d said it as she’d meant it.
Though, as she did, I thought of her 
entering into something like 
an interminable interim between beginning and ending. 
            Finals over, fifth day of June. 
I see her screeching, headlong and happy, 
into the car accident of adulthood. 
            After all the crow, she should know this, 
will never side-strut to pluck its last 
piece of bread or ash from the terminal roads. 
            The airport orderly, exhausted and middle-aged, 
will never stop extinguishing 
cigarette fires in these same two bins; pausing 
only to light his own, smoke blue under white 
ant columns of the birch trees 
and to eye the passing teenage legs 
bound out for Sharm El Sheikh. 
            No day will be the last day. 
            No night will smooth with pine-cone dark 
the world into a rounded point. 
            The flowering weeds on the by-hills
point towards heaven. 
            The wingless ant skirts, again and again, 
the edges where leaf-matter joins the air. 
            She, dotting the last i in her last exam, 
slips, amphibious, from silo into river-bend.
            But the river has a thousand turns. 
There are no finals in the end, 
just a multitude of flat-eyed people passing 
from lobby into lobby, from one car-park to the other,
looking hard, and constantly, 
for a better offer.




B.T. Joy is a free verse poet whose work has appeared in journals, magazines, e-zines and podcasts worldwide. He currently works as a high school English teacher.