My grandfather searches for flints,
for bulb fractures, for shatter marks.
A kestrel is rising like
smoke over tumuli.

There were kisses in words,
parcels of silks like petals,
carved wooden gods
with elephant heads.

For in the end he knew
she was the miracle itself,
the secret which every god
refuses to utter,
that we are all,
forever, incarnate.


The days pass when we too turn
to amber, when we too fail
the clotted earth.

Pheasants crank wheel through beech woods,
mist hangs in the long grass
and burnished leaves
journey imperceptibly
through fathoms of air.

Behold Blind Tiger
you have been disfigured for us
and carry all our sorrows;

for we are greater at our method
of counting, allocating
numbers to the dead.

James Simpson is a Jerwood/Arvon writing fellow and was a prizewinner in the Thomas Hardy Society’s James Gibson Memorial Poetry Competition. He has collaborated with the artist and printmaker Carolyn Trant on the artist’s books, Hunting the Wren and The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter (both Parvenu Press), editions of which now reside in private and public collections nationally and internationally; including the British Library (Modern British Special Collections), Yale University Library, Louisiana State University (LSU Libraries) and the University of Georgia (Main Library). In 2011 The Untenanted Room was published as an Agenda Editions, the second movement of a longer poem of that name.


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