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James Sutherland-Smith

Cover of The River and the Black Cat
Welcome to my website.
This is my latest collection published in February 2018.

Art and Nature

The trees are as yet showing
only minute points of colour,
pink buds, yellow catkins, no leaf.
So the ice hockey stadium
isn’t hidden by the trees.
Its walls were painted long ago
in a green thought in a green shade
unknown anywhere in nature,
likewise the stripe separating
the walkway from the cycle track by the river,
itself an olive green,
after the meltwater has gone.
A truck tyre is visible
and a supermarket trolley
pitched there by the three musketeers.
The black cat glides by on roller blades.
A biplane trails a banner in the sky,
“Do what comes unnaturally.”

No Text

This is a new poem which I hope will appear in my next book of poems, but I don't know when that'll be.


So the cat untwists in midair
beneath the apple tree, a blackbird
fluttering backwards from her paws
as she lands eyes vivid with desire,
crouches, wriggles, deliberates, blinks.
So, too, an apple springs unbitten
from your hand to its twig, unripens
from red to green, dwindles to pistil,
before it blossoms, folds into bud.

So, too, the car strikes, tyres then brakes screech,
your father’s walking stick flying
to his grasp as he somersaults
to his feet, backs off to his house,
goes inside, floats his coat to a hook, sits
over the years his hair thickening,
darkening,his voice deepening
into laughter until he can catch
and throw you up to where you smile.

So, too, the scar on your thigh,
whose slight ridge I love to touch
with a fingertip, widens
becoming bluish, livid, pink,
minute particles rising to it
from wherever you care to limp
making a scab, an ooze of droplets,
a flow before another’s knife
withdraws and heals the jagged tear.

So, too, our lips close on each other’s.
So, too, our mouths move apart.
So, too, their separate smiles fade.
So, too, our eyes look askance.
So, too, we step back, turn away.
So, too, our heartbeats decelerate.
So, too, we don’t blurt out the words.
So, too, we don’t decide to risk it.
So, too, we are never introduced.

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