The Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2018 just arrived in my mailbox, with a poem of mine among the 40 gathered into next year’s issue, mainly from the Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, with a few of us Yanks sprinkled in, along with some gorgeous work from Greece and Jamaica. The issue includes short fiction by 20 similarly diverse writers, hailing from England, Ireland, Belgium, Brazil, and various other elsewheres.
I hasten to add that I didn’t win the £1,000 prize for poetry (the same amount attached to the prize for fiction), which went to New Jersey poet Jonathan Greenhause for his funny/serious Williamsesque piece, “A Poem Written in My Past Life as a 15th Century Georgian Monk.” I wish I could violate copyright to bring it to you here!
Instead, I’ll just offer my own from the same issue, which is one of a projected 44-poem sequence I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. Here it is, with many thanks to Aesthetica‘s editors:
Chopped Earth Under Curdled Clouds
A landscape picture
As El Greco might have done it,
although that crevice of dry creek’s
no Tagus River, the slouching wreck
of abandoned farmhouse no Toledo.
Still, as this flood of fraught light
draws me to a stop just off the road
to grab notebook and pen, so it might
have made the artist seize his brush,
reflect, transform, imbue, express—
before the scene’s charged figurations
crumbled into opaque particulars.
Sure enough, by the time I look up
from the page, the crumbling’s begun.
The depth of field’s shallowed, and now
each high-embossed clod and furrow
flattens, and the clouds seem to sink,
dissolving into this slow flow of mist.
Soon the sun’s a faint-hearted blur,
the house ghosted, the creek erased.
No castle walls here, no cathedral spire,
to hold the heavens and Earth in place.