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James W. Wood: a celebration

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.

Parthenon Park

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:

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