New Original Writing: Matthew Rice and Ross Thompson

New poems from 12NOW writers Matthew Rice and Ross Thompson.

Matthew Rice: The Road Home
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Strange to see
on the half-lit, late winter road
home from Dunseverick;
not sheep or cows,
or even a billy goat
tottering dumbly about the roadside grass,
but three deer, running in unison,
bird-like in formation,
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dreamily veering left to right
like a wavering arrow;
a re-education in movement,
their fleet-hooved,
unsure flightiness.
Each gentle rev
of our car’s engine fluttered through
them like a sheet billowing off a line.

I’d seen this before, I was sure,
only then I’d run amongst them,
a phantom deer, keeping up.
I wanted to shake
my human shackles,

for what could deer know
of troubled heart and
spiteful tongue,
fugitives from the venison farmer’s
profitable blade,
or wanderers caught between two woods,

sailing on the scent of home.

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Matthew Rice: Conclusion

The storm rocks
everything in its cradle;
the big nothing hammers away at the walls.

Mere yards from my bed
the waves ride like exploding myths
to conclusion after conclusion.

And, in the calm of the morning,
with things displaced and uprooted,
I’ll be reminded of you,

which will be as close as I’ll come
to forgetting you were ever here.

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Ross Thompson: Transition

“It’s not death which terrifies me,” he said,
one week shy of turning thirteen,
“nor is it the act of remaining dead.
It’s the part that lies in-between:

that moment after climbing into bed,
the cleansing breath just before sleep
takes hold; when you jump headfirst off the ledge
into the void which pawns your dreams,

before the light fulfils its daily pledge.”
I choked back tears, smoothed down the sheets,
and laid a cooling cloth upon his head.
“What if,” he said, voice like threshed wheat,

“I become stuck before my name is read
with the time my heart fails to beat?
What if, when, willing or not, I am led
by the wrist or pulled by the feet,

the exit shuts before my clothes are shed,
and I, my journey incomplete,
am neither free nor caught by a loose thread
of my nightgown? What if the screen

draws back to reveal a new screen ahead,
and another, and… .” His voice seemed
flat as a cheque, a blank one at that, bled
of ink which formed its script. I grieve

for the comfort I did not bring. Unsaid
words haunt my thoughts. Some things refuse to leave.

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Ross Thompson: Euphemism

Loss: a strange word for this separation,
as if they had been misplaced like spare change;
left on the moon where all forsaken
things wait but can never be found again.

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