‘Truth’ for National Poetry Day: Justina Hart, Paul Jeffcutt, Clarissa Aykroyd




To the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London

Release your black charges from their cages –
Gripp, Harris, Rocky, Merlin, Erin, Jubilee –
six to save the country, as Charles II decreed:
with a spare, Poppy, born and bred for Brexit.
Glue back their primary feathers for balance.
Feed them blood-soaked biscuits, gralloch,
whole rabbits complete with fur and bones.
Whistle to them, await the rich metallic caw.

Now see your charges soar above the nation,
alight on a billowing blue flag, peck out
gold stars. Watch them swoop on Westminster,
pluck out the tongue of every MP. Observe
how they descend in an unkindness on Britain’s
soft belly, biting green fields till they’re bare.
Then cry as the White Tower of London tumbles,
the White Cliffs of Dover crumble to the sea.



Justina Hart is a poet, performer and novelist who received a British Council/Arts Council award in 2018 to tour her work in Australia. Her Remapping pamphlet was shortlisted in the Poetry School’s 2014 pamphlet competition. www.justinahart.com, @justinahart

Note: This poem was shortlisted in the 2019 Second Light poetry competition.





Tibulus the freed-man of Venustus
wrote with an iron stylus
in lamp-blackened beeswax
coated on a tablet of fir
to Gratus the freed-man of Spurius,
one hundred and five Denarii he owed
for merchandise sold and delivered to him
in Londinium six days before the Ides of January.

One thousand nine hundred and fifty seven years later
the tablet was found preserved in mud
as foundations were dug in the City.
The beeswax gone,
his debt remained
etched in wood.



Paul  Jeffcutt lives in the Brontë Country of Northern Ireland.  His debut collection, Latch, was published by Lagan Press (2010). Recently his poems have appeared in The Interpreter’s House, Magma, Orbis, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Vallum. Website: http://www.pauljeffcutt.net/




‘Speaks true who speaks shadow’
i.m. Alexander Litvinenko

What is said
In boardrooms

The translation
Into day violence

Your eyes
Still living
Into us



Clarissa Aykroyd grew up in Victoria, Canada and now lives in London, where she works as a publisher. Her work has appeared in international journals and anthologies, and her first pamphlet Island of Towers will be published by Broken Sleep Books in October 2019. She is the author of a blog on poetry and poets, The Stone and the Star https://thestoneandthestar.blogspot.com/  


Note: The title of this poem is taken from Paul Celan’s poem Speak you too, translated by John Felstiner.

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