BS Johnson

you past fiery elephant, you


grave-yard, you

long gone icon

you were my first

dead cert

third rate

box inserting

Joycean echo or, more like,

merely a bloke who chose to think and drink

and wade about in such wastage and excess

your spirit drowned on praise too slight

and the tastes of bile regurgitated

on spectacular non-success.

for even when, I safely re-bathe

in tomes of your frail egoic light

I cherish more your distinctive

scrawl of ink green

on the last page of Poems Two

than all that’s raked and faked by you

in the pages in between.


And now off with odd and on with a new

unexpected Autumnal ache

that leaves me tender-full within the tendrils of

Anthony Hecht’s delicious text

just discovered in the second hand

Oxfam ‘Joy of Poetry Fact and Fiction’ section

and so:

with dictionary in one hand and

with Millions of Strange ancestral skeins

Shadowing the very means of my understanding

I am deliciously dropped

bit by bit, into his wonderful past penmanship

his death eulogy for Somebody’s Life

his Greek mythologies sifting with ease beneath

The Music of the Night

A Voice, never seen,

breathes in me new life, indeed

from The Cost to The Lull through Swan Dive

and soft Epistles Green

I Feast on Stephen, and the Coming Home

to Gladness for his subtle splendid genius brimming in-between.