James Caruth


Each time I tell it a little differently.
It was Autumn,
a skirr of leaves in Washington Square,
the old men playing chess,
two women on a bench drinking white wine
from crystal flutes as they listened
to the Cuban boys playing salsa.

Summer maybe,
the sun through the blinds
throwing thin lines across the floor,
the wail of sirens rising from the streets.
A man stretched out on his bed listening
to cockroaches scratch in the walls
while the woman in the next apartment
makes love in Spanish.

And over in the Village,
a man sits on the sidewalk,
one trouser-leg empty from the knee,
a sign round his neck – Gulf War Vet.
Till a fat cop in his stayprest blues
kicks the one good leg, fingers
his gun in its polished holster
and raises his night-stick to point the way home.

Or was it late Spring
when we saw two women on Charles Street,
heard the young one yell – Don’t touch.
Keep your freekin hands off me,
as the other raised two pale palms
in silent truce, while the words rained down
and her face fell apart.

I took a photo of you by the sign
in an office window – Divorce $300,
as you held your hand to your heart
and sang – God Bless America.

James Caruth was born in Belfast. His first collection, A Stones Throw, was published by Staple Press in 2007 followed by the sequence, Dark Peak, (Longbarrow Press, 2008). Tithes, a sequence based around the South Yorkshire village in which he now lives will appear in Footings, (Longbarrow Press, 2012). He has collaborated with artists Paul Evans (Anthropocene project) and Joanne Berry (Companion Stones) and his poem, The Deposition, won the Sheffield Poetry Prize in 2011.


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