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On loan or on secondment, where
ever the Royal Loamshires went,

to Chester or to Caerleon,
garrison towns: the martyrs’ path

down to the odeons of turf
and nutshells. Hunger is what drives,

unloveliest of urges, most
appealing to the gaping grave.

And how exotic, how unfair
that lion of it in the guts

of these hirsute, half-pagan saints
is sated, while my need stays great

and all my senses bent to serve
the Adversary’s emptiness:

all evil I’m complicit in
refined to savor of this lone

obliterating palate, clean
of life, the richness of its taste

devoured, not one scrap of grace
or mercy for the saprotroph

to feast upon, except perhaps
the promise of that awful peace

secreted in the bowels of Christ
where justice is the same as bliss.



James Brookes is a British poet living in Boston. An Eric Gregory Award winner, his poems have appeared in the London Review of Books, Poetry, Hopkins Review, and elsewhere. His latest collection is Spoils (Offord Road).



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