Nicholas Johnson


ALL March day the birds do sing
                      as if sauterelles on a zither
not as if and neither like
                            for they ve become so.
Wind unveils a sediment
the white in smoke signifies flesh
fields appear flatter
                        Saline in
                              the cockerel water
                                     muddied & pristine
the pheasant is brainless
left to its own devices.

the motif birds of spring that make the song
                                           sound frantic
                            they've moved miles
                   tomorrow they pre pep pre pep nr abandoned straw and trefoil
                    galvanise of sheds & out into sky
                                          but barely in it
The black smoke in the old fields
the oxide in the blood is moving to the outer edge of the surface
                   not like the rings in the oak
                but below the rings of the oak
                                                 the blood we speak of,
robbed from our cheek insides

Around 4600 farmers across the country had
identified 16000,000 animals that may be
eligible for the scheme

In my eye bright
some 15, 16, 17 years ago,
                  red soil
            nurtures crops
                      human toes curved at peak
3-4 months of the year.
Press your eye against mist shining gorse
                           a partridge covey
                                   below hollyglade
summer   a long sunset stitching up hills & hayricks
pious galvanise of water stagnant over the horizon
as you slip down as you remember
Incremental glitter hit your eyes
you saw young men
walking abreast spanned without saying something
as they pass you and don't see you in their white sylph suits
down a lane packed with primroses
blood on their hands and their boots
across their stomachs and their faces, where they go
who knows, where they finish
who asks

          I have cleaved back the harm I
           have done my neighbour for causing
           fires to be built near the streams the larches
I have met ghosts coming back from Ash Moor
who looked through me cradling whole udders in their arms

I see, in the cocooning month of May, shellac with spatters of acid
corrosive resin moving across the land and watercourses