Issue 18: David Wheatley

The Fourth Craw

                         i.m. Roy Fisher

I am driving the Jacobite army north from Derby.

Three craws sat upon a wa  

You can go there if

you want, into that past,  

all banners and ballads,   

and lie in its grievance

shaped to a vacancy.

I remember the trampling

of the flag, and a horse,

legs gone, catching

its tail as it fell. 

The first craw was greetin fer his maw

Assigning legs and arms

to this or that body

among the tangle

balletic tableau

I watched the sun-

light cross the valley

implacable but gilding

our profiles fondly

as we took flight.

The second craw fell and broke his jaw

Living that high up

said the woman in the courtyard

holding my reins and  

gesturing over the hills

anywhere else must

feel like a come-down

so many worlds 

of patient neglect

stored up for our

return and whose


won’t come cheap.

The third craw couldna flee awa

Following by night

the ginnels and shambles of Leeds

as though a blind man should trace

with his fingers the features

of a child’s face

we came to the North

good enough to have

stayed where we left it

And the fourth craw wasna there at aa

the ways closed over

behind us and all manner

of joyous lament finding

its proper dark at last.

David Wheatley’s The President of Planet Earth will be published in autumn 2017 by Carcanet.