Poet Tree

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Very pleased to have a poem in the second issue of Barren Magazine today, wonderfully illustrated by the photography of Matthew Yates. The online publication was due out on October 1st, but it was released early to the overwhelming approval of the growing number of folk who are aware of its existence. My own contribution Forty Years On looks back at an attack on a young ash tree and what it triggers as a result; a bit personal this one but it feels OK to share.

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As an aside, I am very flattered by the positive feedback from my two favourite US poets (I hope they know who they are) and I would like them to realise how much their encouragement has meant at a time when confidence in what I’m writing has been wavering ever so slightly. Thank you : ) xx

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Forty Years On

Walking in snow towards this young ash
triggers memories that surge and well,
overflowing as uncontrolled gasps of breath.

This scar deepens with every visit; a vicious erosion,
an abhorrent river coursing down the trunk,
heartwood exposed to light perceived as shameful.

Eyes burn, assaulted by a metre of slashed hate
inflicted on poorly defended and tender bark;
some stranger’s loathing of beauty.

Victim and witness to the effects of inadequacy,
I am drawn to repent for assaults by others,
tarred by kith for resurrected screaming deeds.

These clouds know it. These birds are aware.
This tree understands no amount of contrition
could erase the mark of Cain upon its body,

still striving to push blackened buds out
into a world five years after such violence;
still walking with scars forty years on.

 

Published September 2018 Barren Magazine

Barren Photograph credit: Matthew Yates

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3 comments

  1. I never tire of reading your work, Jonathan, and this poem is an exquisite piece that has stayed with me since reading it yesterday. I told Joe that I want to be able to write like you when I grow up, write with the kind of beauty that you bring to language. Thank you for sharing this with the world!

  2. Susan, it is you to whom I refer in the above post. Thank you for your generous comments (I really appreciate your very kind words about my poetry). I think your writing aspirations are misplaced however, because without doubt your poems stand on their own two feet, have a marvellous quality to them and require no reference to others’ work, least of all mine; they are simply brilliant in their own right and I love reading them … you are an incredibly talented poet.
    P.S. Best wishes to Joe : )

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