Poem of the Month: July 2009

ruined abbey



Kirkstall Abbey
When we met,
it was as if a door suddenly blew open
and you were standing there,
a stranger with rain on your shoulders.
And now we are walking together,
the backs of our hands touching,
in the abbey grounds.

The sun shines intermittently on us
as we peer through grills
into the shattered centre of the church,
of a long-gone community of men
who built all this to demonstrate
the enduring love of God.

When I spend considering time alone,
it seems that nothing
man-made and beautiful
can last forever;
but then I think perhaps
eight hundred years would do.

© James Nash, Coma Songs [2003, 2006]

Poem of the Month: June 2009

An exercise in writing the unwritable….

a small death


It’s just the smell at first,
which tells me there has been
a small death in the house,
perhaps lying amongst the fluff and shoes
underneath the bed.

It is a compost smell,
the hot, sweet pudding heart of rotting grass,
or fruity vomit caught and fizzing
in a nostril.
And I am almost frightened to track it down.
A bluebottle circles drunkenly,
around the bedroom
bumps its buzzy face against mine,
gorged with carrion, and empty of eggs
like a returning bomber.
And I wait for an explosion
in the local population
of flies.

With the going of the smell, some days later,
I find a mouse,
flattened beneath a rug.
No bone unbroken in its body,
teeth grinning sideways,
a yellowed fragment
of an old ivory comb.
Its body ripples
with the temporary life of maggots,
more used to three dimensions,
than this collapsed world.

I take a dustpan and brush to it,
dislodging a fly,
into a lazy, helicopter spiral.
And it comes away from the carpet
like a toffee.
leaving a sticky brown stain behind.

© James Nash, Coma Songs [2006]