Getty Images.
Show Hide image

A new John Burnside poem: To the younger man

I see you know
    the world’s way, all that

slop and carrion
    of having, but not

    ludic and cavalier, you’re almost

    in someone else’s hell,

answering dog
    with shark, aristocrat

with nunc dimittis.
    So rest assured,

you’re welcome in this place,
    there’s no one, here, would

Ides of March
    your party;

but listen:
    can you hear it in the floor

the ring that rings
    against the ring

of footsteps
    when you stumble out of luck?

no need to tell the truth:
    just don’t pretend

you walked into a fate
    you knew would happen;

there’s falcon still
    to come, the noontide

swing of it, before the claws
   dig in

– and later, when it dives
    to drain the heart

and daybreak finds you
    with a run of blood,

like grease, between the collar
    and the chin,

step out into the sun
    for all to see:

your friends, your dead,
    your team of publicans

who kept you sweet
    so they could gut you now.


John Burnside’s most recent poetry collection is Still Life with Feeding Snake (Jonathan Cape

This article first appeared in the 06 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Spring Double Issue

Show Hide image

Brexit… Leg-sit

A new poem by Jo-Ella Sarich. 

Forgot Brexit. An ostrich just walked into the room. Actually,
forget ostriches too. Armadillos also have legs, and shoulder plates
like a Kardashian.  Then I walked in, the other version of me, the one
with legs like wilding pines, when all of them

are the lumberjacks. Forget forests. Carbon sinks are down
this month; Switzerland is the neutral territory
that carved out an island for itself. My body
is the battleground you sketch. My body is
the greenfield development, and you
are the heavy earthmoving equipment. Forget
the artillery in the hills
and the rooftops opening up like nesting boxes. Forget about

the arms race. Cheekbones are the new upper arms
since Michelle lost out to Melania. My cheekbones
are the Horsehead Nebula and you are the Russians
at warp speed. Race you to the finish. North Korea

will go away if you stop thinking
about it. South Korea will, too. Stop thinking
about my sternum. Stop thinking about
the intricacy of my mitochondria. Thigh gaps
are the new wage gaps, and mine is like
the space between the redwood stand
and the plane headed for the mountains. Look,

I’ve pulled up a presentation
with seven different eschatologies
you might like to try. Forget that my arms
are the yellow tape around the heritage tree. Forget
about my exoskeleton. Forget
that the hermit crab
has no shell of its own. Forget that the crab ever
walked sideways into the room.
Pay attention, people.

Jo-Ella Sarich is a New Zealand-based lawyer and poet. Her poems have appeared in the Galway Review and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear