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The Poems of Nicholas Murray

ae PoetryEditor’s note: Nicholas Murray was born in Liverpool and now lives in Wales and London. He has written three poetry collections and critically acclaimed biographies of Bruce Chatwin, Matthew Arnold, Andrew Marvell, Aldous Huxley, and Franz Kafka. He has also published two novels, “A Short Book About Love,” and “Remembering Carmen,” and books on Victorian travelers, Liverpool and Bloomsbury. He runs the poetry imprint Rack Press and is a Fellow of the Welsh Academy. Visit nicholasmurray.co.uk.

Orang-Utang

We tense at each collision

as you strike the bars.

Those orange wisps of fur,

the bruised, black nose,

the eyes that plead

as if I held the keys

that could release you,

from this narrow cage.

ae EarthAir3

East

Did it come on the wind,

through the thickness of ancient forest,

at her grandmother’s house by the lake:

the announcement of Spring,

the different taste of air,

and the chant of renewal?

Did she read, in the rustle of leaves,

or the cry of rooks in a high elm,

the first drafts of truth?

 

Bear

The quiet civility of chess

absorbs Sofia’s central park,

the players wordlessly absorbed.

Light early summer air,

new flowers, girls in groups

flirt with the nervous boys.

The noise of an accordion

a glum and ragged bear,

led forward on a chain.

His master orders coffee, 

yawns, and yanks the chain;

business is bad, the world and its compassion!

Someone must suffer: let it be the bear.

Who at the next pull staggers up

and claps his dirty paws.

 

Icon

These angular, sad men

in pointed beards

and rivuleted cheeks

take down their Christ

and fondle him

like tender lovers.

Their pained eyes

ingest his agony,

their pinched hands,

gothic-arched,

seek pardon

for this imposition,

this surrogate hurt

that should have cut

their flesh not his.

 

Vole

Small forager and fossicker

beneath a drift of leaf;

twitching snout alert

for food, ears to danger,

fine whiskers pricked,

dark bright eyes alive:

a dainty dish to set before an owl.

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