Three Poems by Ian Pople


In memoriam Dupree Bolton

That time at dusk. The barn owl
beats up and down beside

the meadow fence; sluggish
as if not confident, an aphorist

of predation. Its flat, wide face
divided about the beak,

its beautiful cruelty divined
from wit, righteoused in

progeny, the plurality
of individuals, meaning one.

As when we see the bodies
of animals at the roadside

and know that birds have
flown above them, filled

with a power that was
most intimately theirs and not them.



Travelling the main line,
Everything in its right place.

The buildings in the suburbs seem
so solid, linear and unshakeable;

in good standing, the thick-set,
heavily berried rowans.

The memories we left behind,
like Thumbelina, left to myth

and tale, superseded by the view
down the nave, to where, above

the Pietà, one baulk of wood had
quietly been placed across another.


Sfumato: John Singer Sargent

As if the work were
a kind of prohibition.

He loved their skin, but most
of all their hands, against

the textured blend of grey
over green; and their gaze,

the set of the mouth,
the set of the eyes,

and, among the lanterns,
all that atonement.



About the Author:

Ian Pople’s poems have been published in TLS and LRB, and are forthcoming in Poetry. He teaches at the University of Manchester.