by Jon Stone
I. THE EX-BOYFRIEND AMONG WILTING FLOWERS
(after Araki Nobuyoshi)
They’re not yet limp and still well flushed
with bloody dyes that darken in
their curling tips but past the point
of picking, the summer’s cut-and-thrust.
But he, hawk-hearted, freshly loosed,
with time for more and nothing else,
thinking beauty at its most heady
in its final shudders, is well seduced.
II. THE EX-QUEEN AMONG THE DINOSAURS
They watch the sky turn bludgeon-blue,
their crests engorged, their plates pricked up.
Every fin, sail and spiny frill
is frenzied to a danger hue.
But she, exempt, extant, ex-queen,
exudes an air of measured calm.
She’s done this once; the kingdom up
in smoke, the flood, the cannibal scene.
III. THE EX-NECROMANCER AMONG C COMPANY
(after Sidney Keyes)
Through Bone to Medjez from Algiers,
they hold the line with spats and scraps,
then take a hill and hold that too,
bed down among the rusty smears.
But he, death-scholar, symbolist,
has found the place where his lab rat
is infestation – wild, at large,
and studying him through the dreaming mist.
IV. THE EX-NORTHERNER AMONG THE NORTHERNERS
They bring the full and fattened cobs,
and from their gardens leeks and beans,
and from the shops horseradish sauce,
then meat and mustard, heat the hobs.
But he, far flung, now London-based,
tongue stiffened on much harder vowels,
drains his glass and tries to pin
a name to what he can’t quite taste.
after “The Ex-Queen Among the Astronomers” by Fleur Adcock
Jon Stone was born in Derby and currently lives in Whitechapel, London. He’s the co-creator of the micro-anthology publisher Sidekick Books and the multi-format literary zine Fuselit. His work has been published in a variety of British anthologies, including The Best British Poetry 2011 and Adventures in Form. He has twice been highly commended in the UK’s National Poetry Competition and his full-length collection, School of Forgery (Salt, 2012) is a Poetry Book Society Summer Recommendation for 2012.
I run the bath, Charlotte,
and write in my diary, Charlotte,
where my days are numbered, Charlotte,
and I consider the corpses
The shell of a whiskered wasp
on my windowsill
where I kept it trapped by blowing at it,
thinking it to be your messenger,
come to say you do not love me
The shattered stain of a moth
on the splinters and black veins
of the windowframe.
I caught it and crushed it
when it tried to come through,
mistaking it for your hovering
trying to invite me
out into the frost, to fall and make
scorched earth of my knees
The dried, balled woodlice
by the skirting board
I thought to be your beauty spots
brushed off in your haste
to disappear completely
when you heard me on the landing,
The spider now drowned
in the running water, a snip of your hair,
as if you meant to say,
“Jean-Paul, you said you wanted me,
but if you insist on locking me out,
all you’ll have is this lock.”
I have run the bath, Charlotte,
and wait with my dead army and diary,
I wish you’d join me, Charlotte,
I have need of your company
by Jon Stone