Issue 26: Howard Wright


                                                                    The bedroom

gone thermo-nuclear. Coalsmoke in the rain.

A clinging childhood. The reek of rotten apples

where you turn the hedge,

                                                                    the spume

of mayflower across the fields. Two high

planes and a washed-out sun. The buntings

staying up until they fall down

                                                                    The beauty

in coincidence and a spill of stars; artistic

licence that never expires. Cheap music

that makes everything all right

                                                                    The lost note

in a peel of bells. The poetry of doubt.

Architecture and weather, some sleet

on the rooftops, cold in the bones.

                                                                    The silence

of work. The telephone pole, a junction

for wires slicing the sky into eight, nine,

like a pie-chart of Antarctica.

                                                                    The geometry

as icing on the cake. Coffee grounds

in the sink sluiced away but not before you see

in negative a quadrant of

                                                                    the universe.


Lightning is a wave of the wand,

thunder a bad joke, the clutch all give-and-take.

Our arguments are enemies becoming friends

when we cross-country behind neurotic tractors

and big boom-boom blacked-out saloons

driven by low-slung, splay-eared racers

never quite showing themselves.

Too much icing and not enough cake.

We take it slow but need to be re-acquainted

with the weight of the fuel gun, its fumes

and political cost, paying with due concern

for what the world has become, then out

in the open, at the mercy of dipping roads

and compilation discs, large-scale maps

that fight back as reluctant guides to earthly

delights, our destination kissing the horizon

above two shores made for one another

under clouds that lift the heart.

Howard Wright lectures at Ulster University. He was longlisted in the 16/17 National Poetry Competition, and shortlisted for the 16/17 Poetry Business Pamphlet Prize. He won second place in the 2018 Ver Poets Competition and was Commended in the McLellan Prize. Poems have since appeared in Abridged, Poetry Ireland and Vallum, and are due to be published in The North and Stand.

Copyright © 2021 by Howard Wright, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.