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Two eclogues.



The flattened world is incapable of folding its creatures;
they enter no burrows, nests
cannot raise a rookery aloft amidst spheres of mistletoe,
new carrot-top curls subside,
creep along the earth they intrigue and disguise, matted

and too shallow. What can break the bed, transparency
of air that glazes the repoussé,
stunted spring? Could it for that matter, rise from a case
womb-like or of iron wrought,
or dive into the court of consciousness, deep inner hold—

neural flashes were the whole thing though never One;
burn-off flares as of crude
flashed in the void that hovers still in condensing layers:
O the desert O sea englobe
in White Matter Hyperintensities about those fiery spots

making of each creature they birth, a crustacean of fear,
networked with a faint pulse,
before task interference, before a jamming, a distortion,
estranges each from each,
from the wavelength promising some end to isolation.

In a flattened world the doors are doors to more doors
that on its rising slam in the sun’s face;
sinking to the seabed devastates its locker while welded
to entrap a lurking animal
inside or out, it makes no difference. Tendrils, antennae,

infant fingers, will nothing stretch forth, nothing stretch
to a kind touch? Slamming epitaphs
unfold as they shut on life spoken for to death, shutters
throw open to a premature spring,
exposing heads of bloom to singe in the cold snap dawn.


You halted in your tracks. Whose was the violet shadow
springing out as if my own?
Whose was that goading itch, its cryptic code, etched on
glass that was itself reflected
on itself, having gone opaque as though with cataracts?

Opacity that chills like glass shields before a riot squad,
tough glass the shadows hive behind
held in reserve, struggling to sneak past lights blinking
from your eye-pits or mine,
escape the haptic winding cloth that once had been flesh.

Time to speak to the matter. If its shadow cutting loose,
all the same were a truer substance,
while its too too solid were a puppet, smirkingly diverts
an accuser grabbing your lapel
for a response, melting to the background with a shrug—

if the spirit in its truth were corrupt while a traitor body
petted and indulged, were reliably
restored through grace and calisthenics, this surrogate
surely takes the biscuit, as it
blinds itself to stay true to the evasions even love avows.

You are your shadow, but the sun at full height reduces
its grimace to a fixed beam
directed to the throat, although a scan for face detection
distorts through glass.
See the Janus face turn inwards, ingratiating and pitiless—

all too wrapped up in yourself, doff your corrosive coat.
Breaths play across my front face,
scent pooled on a pavement fronting a kebab takeaway
affronts; at the fence overlooking
Worms Head, I am suffocated by some air-blue affection.

JOHN WILKINSON’s most recent books of poetry are Wood Circle (The Last Books 2021) and Fugue State (Shearsman 2023). His absentee memoir Colours Nailed to the Mast was published by Shearsman in 2024.

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