Swimming in crop circles
It’s the hazy bleached-air season of white. Stalks hunger
and cling to the August sun, ears tuned for the suck and swing
of the scythe splitting ranks one by one.
Four boys and I swim rapt in butter yellow, rolling in circles,
daring dives into terra. We taunt the proud, crackling wheat, flatten it
to dust, stamping dry earth for good measure.
Ripples in this bowl of gold spread from the epicentre
of acres— our lives, treading trenches in the tidal swell,
seeds scratching our necks and reddening our eyes.
Spent, we see the rusted John Deere tractor on the edge
of tranquility, now threatening a furied twisting water.
We dive behind the last few stalks we can see.
A farmer’s bank of molten wealth has been plundered
by concentrics the width of splayed eight-year-olds. We delay
our crawl, survey the courtroom and prepare our defence.
(published in A New Ulster, Issue 40, January 2016)
Maya’s soliloquy to Pablo
From a sequence in the voices of Picasso’s lovers, wives, daughters, muses
When you leave, it is only fair and right
to clear the table once set with laughter
and tip the wine glasses into the sea
then mix a drop of blood in salt water.
When you leave, please feed your paint
to the fish. Leave the front door ajar for the wind
to bring me the breeze. It’s simple etiquette,
when you’re going and determined.
When you leave, please throw your anchor away,
lose my portraits, burn all those written lines.
Remember from your swaying, wind-blown deck
to point your spinnaker squarely to horizon.
(published in Four X Four, September 2016)
Born in Mid Ulster, Northern Ireland in 1976, Jo Burns now lives in Germany. Jo’s poetry has been published most recently in The Interpreter’s House, and Southword and is forthcoming in Acumen and Oxford Poetry. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her debut pamphlet will be published in March by Eyewear Publishing. In 2017 she won the Irish Writers Los Gatos Festival, CA, Shirley McClure Poetry Prize. She occasionally tweets @joburnspoems