James W. Wood has been writing poems for over thirty years. These, he tells us, are his final two but we're not entirely sure that we believe him. It's an occasion that's worth marking, anyway. You can find his bibliography here.
A heart hangs high over the white horses.
Your open-topped car; her beside you,
a lithe cello. Azure azimuth, Bob Marley
asking what we all wanted to know – Could
You Be Loved? – on your pulsing backseat stereo.
We shuffled round that red-dirt diamond, a proving
ground for hearts and egos, rough beer
and weed's sick scent. Ultraviolet light, spliced
mirror shades reflect the highway,
driving like hell to go cliff diving in the late
nineteen eighties. And on the radio now
it is the '80s always: Cheap Trick, Kon Kan, The Men
They Couldn’t Hang play today as they did then,
you who loved them no longer listening. Your face
stubbled under a bad night prior, lit cigarette
obtuse to lip as you fill the tank; stealing
beer from student halls, getting drunk and back
to those Parthenon cliffs, incongruous reproduction,
Ancient Greece appended to North America's edge.
Our champion jester, you eschewed the work-worn
path of College, grew thicker like the rest
but ran out of space to play, gone before
we could Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. So will you
spin forever in this air, never flailing or hitting
the water, suspended like the Sybil, upside down
against the tide and longing for what would never come?
Over the white horses a heart hangs high.
IM Russell Sheehan, 1969-2015
9.11.2001 – 11.9.2016
We don't believe those mythic beasts
Suppressed by our laws still exist.
We trample them with data
Square and rule.
Watch them rise through the mist,
Ignored for decades, not slouching
To some birthplace, but formed, grown
In violence and rearing to the sun
For blessing. Smoke from old fires
Catches our minds, thorn and sword
Scar humanity and yet...
Are all we dare to believe,
Not finger touching finger in discovery
But bipolar pixellature, the unreal flip
Of plus or minus as the animal's jaws
Gape over us in greeting.
James W. Wood's poems, articles and short stories have appeared in many literary journals and newspapers, including The TLS, The Poetry Review, The National Post (Canada), and Critical Quarterly. The author of six books of poetry and a pseudonymous thriller, he has been shortlisted or nominated for eight literary awards and was the 2018 recipient of the British Columbia Writer's Award in Canada. You can find him here: www.der-jimmelwriter.com.