[Poetry] — George Rawlins


Along the turn where the Avon falters
back toward Brislington, and hand-smoothed

fieldstone agrees with its decisions,
I stalk a weakening current, a mirror

to wandering, tracing faint verse
into sediment just

below whitewater. In a cloudburst, a shepherd
braves a hailstorm with his flock

and collie, solid as a stand of oak. Lightning
probes a nearby hill, then searches

for a farmhouse as I turn
back from river’s edge, and take

refuge beneath a granite outcropping,
indistinguishable from my flock.


At the coaching inn near Winterbourne, I write
how poetry will buy exotic

spices and rare ointments equal to the beauty
of my lines. Doubt no longer torments—how

the young, not by increments, may
pass beyond what can be learned, their lives

drawn by an inner
hand. In verse, I’ll gather dragon fruit

and passionflowers, and bleed the spring
lamb spiced with mint. Mother please

tell Sister we’ll save for her the giblet and greasy
neck, as when Father lived, to feast

upon what we may dream like famished
nurslings in the Cheapside of the afterlife.


George Rawlins has recent poems in The CommonNine Mile, and Plainsongs. His poetry collection, Cheapside Afterlife (forthcoming April 2021 from Longleaf Press at Methodist University), reimagines the life of Thomas Chatterton in 57 sonnets. At age 16, Chatterton invented the imaginary persona of a 15th-century poet named Thomas Rowley and tried to pass off the poems as the work of a previously unknown priest to the literati of London. When that and other attempts to help his mother and sister out of poverty failed, at age 17 he committed suicide.