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Two Poems

An Age

Jackself is staying in
today, like a tool in a toolbox,
to try to just be
    high in the lovely lofts
of Lamanby
he stands at a cracked
window watching the gulls
flash and snap, like washing on a line

    in the pale heat
the wormy heartwood floorboards
swell and creak

    he stands for an age
              not for a dark age,
not for an ice age or an iron age, but for a
pollen age, when bees
browsed the workshops
of wildflowers for powder
of light, and the cables
of a spider's web were dusted with gold
by the unreceptacled breeze


Jackself's chinning
into the near-dark north wind
and feels it drawing silver thorns
from the corners of his eyes            he hunches
deeper into his parka,
deeper into his lion's mane
hood        I'm in the wilderness        no, he says,
I am the wilderness, where stray
greyhounds, scrawny prophets
and secret-keepers walk cold acres
hunting shelter under a welder's
mask moon, motherless
and fatherless, with no cupboard of sweetcorn
and baked-bean tins, no airtight
canisters of shortbread
    no baubles, no toilet paper, no featherbed

         what would a turned-out
greyhound want with baubles and toilet paper

    concave and zithery, they're the hounds
Jackself knows from the kennels down the lane
and, knowing no prophets,
he imagines a greyhound-ish
greybeard up on his withered hind legs
and leaning on a chewed dog-stick
to howl like the wind that's threshing these
trees, grown too fearsome to be Christmas trees

Jacob Polley


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