Thursday, January 23, 2014

B. T. Joy- Two Poems


the calling is only ever 
as good as the listening 
I know this most of all
by the Afton’s flow
where redstarts practice 
their trills and sequences of sound  
or currents pass and liquid fingers graze
the banks outlined by strings of tussock grass

the virtuoso may bow Vivaldi’s third
striking exactly each clean phrase 
but if, in the ear, music is sleeping 
curled up like a hare in its lazy form 
and doing nothing 
then there is no melody here; 
no vibrancy received; no regulated beauty
and so I don’t consider it a waste 
to sit by a riverside for days 
just listening
to the pine and birch trees 
with their sharp voices of wind 
with their bright, green tongues and splendid limbs 
or to the languages of birds 
or the cavalcade of water 
that laps inadvertently over 
a pilgrims’ path of stone 
I should stop talking entirely 
in favour of this ability 
to listen
I who’ve asked 
so many questions in the past  
though never waiting long enough 
to hear the answer 


I’m not saying it’s not 
all bullshit 
but let’s sit awhile 
has everyone gone now?  
the sounds 
on the loose boards outside  
gave in hours ago 
and the traipse of feet 
has carried itself home 
I’m not saying we’ll come 
to any conclusions 
but let me read you again 
that poem 
William Carlos Williams wrote 
for the plums in the icebox 
we’re bound 
to understand his meaning 
or let’s talk again 
about the day you had; 
how the price of honey is rising
or of the benefits of buying 
a house in the south of France 
august rain 
I imagine
a son 
his mother 
tonight is not quite  
his last in the country 
though they’ve talked so long
it’s morning now
and it is 
his last morning 
a band is lighting the quiet floor  
pale and fire-orange 
like a misty dune of sand  
it stands between them
like months of deployment 
like the briefness 
of the low sun in this part of the country  
they discuss him turning 
and the Christmas presents 
he bought for their dog 
and how hilarious that was
and how sweet 
yet what they never say 
is how tomorrow, or today, he’ll shoulder on 
his duffel bag and catch 
the same bus as many do 
at the army base in town 
I’m digressing 
more and more these days 
though eventually 
I forget them 
here the windows 
square with dawn
you were working early 
and you’re tired
but I feel like a child again 
unaccustomed to sleep 
let’s read another poem 
let’s try to guess 
what Williams meant
by those delicious plums 
so sweet 
and so cold   

Biographical Note: 

B.T. Joy is a Scottish poet and fiction writer living and working in Glasgow. He has published poetry and short fiction in journals, magazines, anthologies and podcasts worldwide; including poetry in Forward Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Presence, Bottle Rockets, Frogpond and The Newtowner and horror stories in Static Movement, Surreal Grotesque, James Ward Kirk Fiction, Human Echoes, MircoHorror, Flashes In The Dark, SQ Magazine and Forgotten Tomb Press. After receiving his honours degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies in 2009 he went on, in 2012, to receive a PGDE from Strathclyde University and has since taught as a High School English teacher. He is also the author of two volumes of haiku In The Arms Of The Wind (2010) and The Reeds That Tilt The Sky (2011). His haiga have appeared with the World Haiku Association, Haiga Online and Daily Haiga. He was one of six writers nominated for The Ravenglass Poetry Press Competition of 2012; judged by Don Paterson. For further information on writing and publications please visit the writer’s website:

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