Two Poems by Evan Jones


The Infinite Is a Mushroom

Gradually the stubborn empress died      (she was twenty years older),
and the emperor was seized      by a broken-heartedness.
He went to his advisors, and      ‘mourning’, he said, ‘tomb’,
he said, ‘miracle’, he said. Some      consoled him. When he said ‘infinite’
Michael understood the words       were as stubborn as the empress.
He thought of Anaxagoras:      my mourning is in everything in everything.
The tomb is a bee hive. The miracle       is the royal blood. The infinite
is a mushroom preferred to a peach.       What we offer in our losses
pushes against mortality and can      feel something pushing back.
The emperor liked this. When      his sister died, he barely noticed.


The City Was Burning

The emperor died mysteriously      in his bath. The emperor
was captured and killed at      Manzikert. The emperor was alive,
held to ransom. The emperor      was no more. His brother plotted
a coup. The people rioted. His son      came of age. The empress
took a younger lover. The city      was burning. The plague all-
consuming. The houses and      churches emptied, filled, emptied.
The emperor understood and      said as much. His voice growing
fainter, as the Varangian guard      led him away in chains.



About the Author:

Canadian poet Evan Jones has lived in Manchester since 2005. His most recent book is Later Emperors (Carcanet 2020).