TWO POEMS – James Carroll

Photo by Jesse Collins on Unsplash

James Carroll is a twenty-three year old English Literature Masters student at the University of Leeds. His work has featured in multiple Leeds art publications, including The Scribe, Heir and his mother’s fridge. He is currently writing a novel about the relationship between sport and men’s mental health, and no poem could ever mean more to him than Manchester United Football Club. 

On Nerve Agent Attacks

It’s no dark stranger, hat-headed
and skulking, gun holstered under an
ankle-length leather coat.

Nor is it friendly foe disguised
as help, dressed in compliments
to win your favour.

It isn’t law, crashing through
the peace and clumsily demanding
rich reward.

Instead, it whispers death upon your skin,
which cannot help but usher
dreadful progress.

Cross, Thud, Rustle, Swear

Cross, thud, rustle, swear.
We’re putting together our ‘Greatest Team’,
Leaning on encyclopaedic pools
Of research, for the moment
When one of us can say:
‘But what about Keane?’ and
The other can despair, falling
To the ground in penance
For his listless assay.

Cross, thud, rustle, swear.
Poor grass that has not seen
A day of winter, buried in our
Trench of mud-trodden dirge
So that when you fall,
This brown and angry sheen
Peels onto your work trousers as
You pick yourself up, swear, swear again,
Then traipse to fetch the miscued ball.

Cross, thud, rustle, swear.
We quote Spinal Tap all hour
Like we’ve never seen it before,
Then declare it and about seventeen
Other things the most ‘unfathomable
Piece of genius to ever cross our
Transoms.’ Ball careers into birdfeeder
And seed mockingly rains round
Our apocalyptic coliseum of mud.

Cross, thud, rustle, swear.
And you’ll be off again in the
Morning. And I’ll be David Beckham
After school, whispering your commentary
To myself; breath-blowing a stadium
Roar. And across screens later, we’ll
Bemoan our chances at the weekend,
And you will tell me about your day,
And I will only be thinking about my
Devoted fans, packed into the garden,
Chanting my name.

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