Poetry » John Newson »


‘The Wedding’, by Eva (aged 3 1/2)

            “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.”
                        Jackson Pollock

It started with a midnight wash of pink
on a white cotton sheet. No,
it started some hours earlier, with a carton
of raspberry and blackcurrant juice in the café
of a garden centre; with a dozen red grapes
and two-dozen blueberries, skins
now hurled as a scattering of blossoms,
confetti strewn on the church floor.
A cocktail of strawberry cheesecake
and stomach acid curdles a bridal veil,
the black tar of an Oreo makes for a top hat.

Anatomy of a Heart

            after Rothko (Light Red Over Black)

When I consider my heart
I think of Rothko, of cotton
stretched and framed
over wooden right angles.
I feel cubic hollows pulse,
soft edged voids pumping greasy blood
to other, more complex organs.

There is no room for sentiment
in such places. Muscles tear
like canvas, fat coats the arteries
as paint constricts the hog-bristle brush.
It is not loss or lust or fruitless love,
it is just the natural weakness of things.

A Recipe for a Successful Marriage

“You never tell me I’m beautiful anymore,”
she says, again.
I try to explain with words like s’mores,
soft and hot and sweet,
that I have given up with such platitudes,
that the spontaneity of lust has soufflé-sunk
with the unavoidable knock of the pan
on the oven door,
and the inevitable “but I don’t know why
when I have so much weight to lose.”
It would be another slanted lie, like the first,
and I would bake soft sponge cake words,
explain again that her waist is firm
and that her hips are perfectly risen,
remind her that I am still in the kitchen.

I would write you a new poem

but there is no great trauma in my life —
and love?
Love is a dehydrated nectarine
grasped by a hand too eager for the juice.

Others may write of wetter kinds of sex,
of warmer types of blood,
while I just gorge, regurgitate, repeat;
gorge, regurgitate, repeat.

Bindweed and Brambles

You are bindweed, tendrils
that wrap around my limbs and lungs,
forgiven for the beauty of your bloom.

I am brambles, berries
plucked by the beaks of passing birds,
a short-lived blossom in amongst the thorns.