John Whitworth


My Blue Heaven

I’m sitting on a bench in Paradise,
Jet-lagged. I turn my head and sniff the air.
Broad oaks and rolling meadows—very nice.
Likewise the sheep, all safely grazing there.
Some lovely lines of Walter de la Mare
Unwind deliciously inside my head—
My first experience of being dead.

A shock-haired angel with a bag of cheese
And onion crisps comes shimmering through the grass,
A Botticelli face with winsome knees
And elbows and a sweet, seraphic arse.
Steel roses and chrysanthemums of brass
Bloom in my soul. My angel crunches crisps,
Then carols in the most divine of lisps,

With hymnal, halo, wings and angel’s nightie,
Our Holy, Holy, Holy, God Almighty.

Adlestrop Unwound

I’ve quite forgotten Adlestrop,
Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter,
Foggy Bottom, Devil’s Drop,

Squeezegut Alley, Nettlefold,
Bogshole, Chicksands, Chickenshit,
Porlock, Warlock, Witch’s Tit,

Stinking Bishop. I don’t think
I’m happy with a lot of those.
God, I need another drink!
Plumstead, Bumstead, Parson’s Nose?

The Leith Police dismisseth us.
Is Leith a place? And where if so?
Carcinoma, Platypus,
Steeple Bastard? I don’t know.

“Adlestrop Unwound” was first published in Joy in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2016)

John Whitworth is one of those fattish, balding old English poets. You know the sort. He tries to win things and sometimes he actually does. His latest book is Joy in the Morning.