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Poetry After Auschwitz – Phil Vernon

Poetry After Auschwitz - Amazon cover
SPM Publications
£7

Phil Vernon bravely takes up the challenge he sets for himself in the title of his first full collection, Poetry After Auschwitz. Here are powerful poems about war and its aftermath of loss and survival, along with poems about a wide range of  other political and historic events. Here too are love poems and poems about gardens and the natural world. With its complex rhyme schemes and strong rhythms, Vernon’s work is accomplished and assured. It confronts difficult subjects. It is courageous and rises to the challenge. 

– Mara Bergman

 

Arundel encampment

Stand, for a moment, cold,
beside the keep,
and the church whose broken walls
the wind blows through.

Look down the cobbled street that falls away
past doors whose shop-bells fail to ring,
to the riverside, where yours is the only car,
and cross the bridge,
to where the geometry of flint and brick and tarmac ends;

and the mystery of who decided where –
so sharply is it etched –
this town would terminate
and the fields be allowed to begin again;

to where,
among the tents,
and right and pikes and muskets stacked in stooks,
in meadows bright in angled light,
the men who’d broken half the nave with cannon fire
and made of it a narrative,
then climbed and cleared the same steep street in rows,

returned
to speak a little, low,
addressing wounds against the background hum of busy work,
avoiding one another’s eye, and – from this distance – yours,

and with their prayers cursed
both town and river bank
to never be free until
those rigid stooks no longer stand,
that never rust, nor fall, nor fade.

 

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