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John Burnside: a poem

Quiet City

Turn of the year, the mind becomes


a chambered nautilus of light and air

suspended in the night sky, where the dead

are cradled in their naming, paragons

of archery, or twinhood, reassigned

to Always,

in the gaps between the stars.

No world, beyond the world we make of Thou,

and yet the heart continues to its own

abstention, on the dark side of the snow

that shifts from street to street, an empery

of caveat from midtown to the cusp

of no-man's-land, where wonders never cease.

John Burnside's collections include The Hoop (1988); The Light Trap (2002); The Good Neighbour (2005); Gift Songs (2007); and Black Cat Bone (2011), which won both the Forward Prize for Poetry and the T.S. Eliot Prize. In 2008, Burnside received the Cholmondeley Award. His prose works include the collection of short stories Burning Elvis (2000), as well as several novels and memoirs. The Devil’s Footprints (2007) was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and A Summer of Drowning (2011) was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. A former writer-in-residence at Dundee University, he currently teaches at the University of St. Andrews.

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