NEW POETRY BY RUSSELL JONES AND BRIAN JOHNSTONE
RUSSELL JONES is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor. He has published four collections of poetry, the most recent being The Green Dress Whose Girl is Sleeping (Freight Books, 2015). He is the deputy editor of Shoreline of Infinity, a science fiction magazine, and is the editor of Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poems from the UK (Penned in the Margins) and the forthcoming Umbrellas of Edinburgh: Poetry and Prose Inspired by Scotland’s Capital City (Freight Books). Russell also writes fiction and his first YA novel, The Talkers, was shortlisted for the $50,000 Half the World Global Literati Award. Russell has a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Edinburgh. He enjoys White Russians, Twiglets and karaoke.
BRIAN JOHNSTONE‘s work has appeared throughout Scotland, elsewhere in the UK, in North America and in Europe. He has published six collections, most recently Dry Stone Work (Arc, 2014), and his work appears on The Poetry Archive website. His memoir Double Exposure will be published by Saraband in February 2017. brianjohnstonepoet.co.uk
The millipede won’t choose
between comfort and cruelty;
its ringed underside, broom feet
only feel for the earth.
I put my pupil to the eyepiece
of a telescope, focus
on the burning galaxies.
I feel my ribs harden,
remove my shoes.
Soon, the millipede finds me
scuttling in the darkest corners.
Dad’s the only god I’ll need. Recall the coos
from wet-perm women, enough to keep
the small town talking for a decade.
Recall the car rides, the offy, blue bags
built for house party booze, ciders
for under sixteens, the sodden fumbles.
Man, the distance only improves.
Recall the apple: green, pulled apart
at the seeds, know all gods are fanciful.
Study, screw about, make your home
in the orchards. Recall the wildfire, drink
enough to keep your old man talking.
A Penny for the Forth
We learned to count the girders, aim
for gaps that would allow
us passage to the surface of the firth
the ritual required. Windows
lowered on their straps,
we kids lined up in corridors, ready
for the flash of red repeating
in our eyes, the gorge of cantilevers
swallowing the train. The tone
would change, rhythms subtly alter
as the central span drew near
where each hand loosed its penny
as, rattling high above the estuary,
steam and coal and metal
bore us on. The luck we’d gained
in store for us, our passage freely paid.
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