Written in response to Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Green Wheat 1889’
Not pagan oaks wreathed in swirling mist
coaxing the dawn into their European blood rites,
nor an oily shipyard scene;
where cockle pickers in rags hold lanterns
of burning whale fat, dredging
the murky horizon for a livelihood,
but something of the New World
in the sun-ripe roof of a yellow farmhouse,
the sky as turquoise as an Argentinian ocean
where the avocado green of young wheat
blazes as the crow flies and insinuates
something I hadn’t yet thought to wish for.
A dramatic monologue written from the point of view of Balthasar in Romeo and Juliet.
When the town watch caught me
sobbing in the rosemary and lemon-mint
I told them everything. I said how he got so close
I could smell the vomit on his breath and the iron
tang of his sweat. How he had threatened me, held me
by the throat and made me swear on our shared blood
that I wouldn’t follow him. I’ve never seen grief burgle
a man’s senses like that. I told them how these Capulet
headstones, some older than the city walls, were luminous
in the hot moonlight and how the shadows of cypress trees
in the humid witching hour made me tremble and hide myself
from them. He had all the gifts of birth and learning
and all I had was my cowards word. Forgive me.
I was so young and I thought he would do better by me.
Jack Warren is originally from the South West of England. His work has appeared in Anomaly Literary Journal as well as Allegro Poetry and his poem ‘Coastline’ won 1st prize at the Prague International Microfestival in 2017. He has lived in Greece & The Czech Republic and is currently studying for an MA at the University of York.