Three new poems from Marianne Burton

Delighted to present three new poems from Marianne, taken from her debut collection, forthcoming from Seren

Midnight : Before the Storm : Hallaton

The San Andreas fault of the night.
A line of blue zeroes rises by the bedside.
Janus stands alarmed, staring four-eyed
at the quick, dead, and squatting out of sight.

Through the window the landscape creaks.
No hint of rain, though trees are shifting
foot to foot, insects have earthed, and in
the lane bats have stopped their slow ticks.

Now, in the owl-stirred blackness –
moon in the birdbath, wind in the grass –
something is getting up, filing its iron nails.

On a garden bench, a book flicks its leaves
over and back, as if being re-assessed,
as if being read by a critic not easily pleased.

3am : The Error : Holland Park

When lovers lying in strange beds regret
the act, waking to the weight
of unfamiliar coverings, reflect
on knowledge not worth gaining.

When all the longing is to have the yearning
back, and lose the consummation.
When the other’s moled shoulders turn
into a drumming dot-to-dot of skin.

Then the quiet dressing at the bedside,
finding the furthest bathroom, the slink outside,
the swift glance back at the façade –
Portland stone, Victorian pelmets.

Feet click like white sticks on the pavement,
silver coins jingle in a hip pocket.

9am : The Bed : Venice

Octopus pasta on the Stendhal sleeper
comes briny with body sacs, like finger
ends of rubber gloves. Not one tentacle.

The whole journey’s been a disappointment,
grinding sleepless over border points
in short single bunks, sulky with sweat.

But, at the Luna Hotel, the bedroom window
uncurtains to a silver screen. We view the lagoon
Prosecco-doped, lobster-soothed, stacked on pillows,
and doze across the hot Byronic afternoon.

In the morning, the city wakes slightly
hazy, wearing just the ripples in the water,
and San Giorgio Maggiore,
a single pearl earring, drips from her ear.

Marianne’s pamphlet, The Devil’s Cut, was a PBS choice – buy it here

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