• John Paul Davies

Selected Poetry by John Paul Davies

Photo Source: Pixnio


A dredging of the past,

sky holds the steeple forth

across the river,

where we lived buried.

Slowing towns bereft in shadow,

but not your hand in mine,

your warm blood.

While we have the golden land

of this sunset,

it is already night where you are.


Outside of the streetlamp circles,

swathed in night your

black dress pulses,

red flowers crawl up its sides.

Elliptical you called the feeling,

placing it forever on the tongue,

naming what was just out of sight.

Word blurred, undiscovered before,

like a sharpening form through the rain

emerging a stranger.

The Understudy

Treads the boards unsteady,

limbs mutinous, tongue numb–

he is his own understudy, seldom used.

A stranger to his part, fluffs lines

from a constantly re-written script.

Blows every dress-rehearsal

and all of his cues. Bystander,

blends into painted backdrops

of far-flung cities never toured.

Dumb as a prop.

Heckled from the Gods

as another curtain call’s missed.

Deafening din of no hands applauding,

no encore demanded,

he takes no bow.

A fitful spectre resigned to the wings,

extra in a one-man show.

Penny Soldier

Hard to tell where the gun arm

ends and the rifle begins–

a crutch to compensate

for a missing right foot,

chewed and spat out by the dog.

As if flattened by a juggernaut,

side-on he has no innards.

Shock-holes for eyes,

the helmet melded to his head

is not standard issue.

Crooked on the bedside table,

he’s no longer expendable–

rescued from vacuum cleaner

and beast–

hollow-eyed spectre, unthinking Grunt,

nightwatchman of our sleep.


Nan flips the first card onto its back:

Queen of Hearts your

love will be red-headed.

A secret hoarded in the eyes,

about the lips,

whichever way up the Queen is held.

Grandad bolsters the tea with Bell’s,

delves into a Buckingham Palace biscuit tin.

Retrieves mint Viscounts,

sugared Nice,

stale-soft custard creams.

Blue eyes behind

Eric Morecambe frames,

Grandad’s commandeered

the record player.

Tugs stubborn vinyl from its sleeve,

croons: “I went to see a Fortune Teller.”

The needle betrays Nat King Cole,

the rumble and hiss of Mona Lisa

stalls in fathomless grooves.

Nan tuts, glances Godward, offers the cards.

Four of Spades you’ll travel far.

The stylus settles, Nat finds his stride.

Grandad waltzes the biscuit tin,

Nan’s eyes dance with diamonds.

Originally from Liverpool, UK, I've had work published in Twenty-two Twenty-eight, The Pedestal, Maine Review, Southword, Crannóg, Manchester Review, and Short Circuit. I came 2nd in the 2017 Waterford Poetry Prize, and was longlisted for the 2018 National Poetry Competition (UK).

If you are interested in learning more about John Paul Davies, you can follow him on Twitter here.