John Short

The December Selected Poet is John Short

Please feel free to email John at: johnbouzouki@gmail.com



Stone-cold is this funereal
event when somehow
I’d expected transcendence.

Yet time’s march stacked
precious minutes until
the day the drumbeat ceased,

and sentience took its leave,
a sudden thin-air ghost
to where whatever drove it knows.

How peaceful he looks now,
but powdered deadness is a wall
when animation disappears.

A part of me observes in silence
yet the rest remains unmoved
as spirit hovers like a cloud.

It’s up and down and all around
and leaves its dust
to scatter on the ground.


In the blackness under floorboards
I have unwanted occupants:
fat guests in gossamer hammocks,
trapeze artist freeloaders
ready to pounce or scuttle back;
wall connoisseurs, pioneers
of unreachable space
safe in holes and cobwebbed corners,
resolute as witches conjuring
furry devil-coloured eggs.
I’ve seen that body-pile in the garage
when dark agendas are frozen
by a sudden flip of light
and sometimes I wake with images
creeping lightly over flesh 
as, like a failed exorcism, they return
once more to spin out possession
of chair-leg angles, trail threads
from dusty lampshades and chandeliers.


The clay head seems to scream
when I open the chest:
an unwanted gift
with secrets trapped in time.

Shaped by a mad sailor,
lost helmsman on dark seas,
chaos crew a sub-plot
to some misguided magic.

I caress its weight
of barren, merciless islands
cruel as shipwrecks
through heart and soul

each day a signal to me
it doesn’t belong here
and dragging tangled nets
of memory stuck like seaweed.

Traumas that won’t fit
inside this change of weather.

John Short lives in Liverpool again after many years in southern Europe. His poems and stories have appeared in magazines around the world but mainly in the USA and Britain. In 2018 he was a Pushcart nominee. His pamphlet Unknown Territory (Black Light Engine Room Press) came out in June 2020.

He blogs sporadically at johnshort.poetry.blog (Tsarkoverse).