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.
forgets the way south.
With undeveloped eyes the olm
can find a coin-sized fissure in the rocks.
There are messages
growing up everywhere.
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.