Stephen Sexton lives in Belfast, where he teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Granta, Poetry London, and Best British Poetry 2015. His pamphlet, Oils (Emma, 2014), was the Poetry Book Society’s Winter Pamphlet Choice. He was the winner of the 2016 National Poetry Competition and the recipient of an ACES award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He received an Eric Gregory Award in 2018. A first book, If All the World and Love Were Young, will be published by Penguin in 2019.
For the boys with the frog this is it.
No one mostly, older girls sometimes
pass on the straggle of back lanes
and it’s for the birds what they talk about.
This variety of August
is untroubled surfaces, fields
of barley at the elbow
and within a stroll, a starve
of waste ground fly-tippers rust
their ancient engines on.
A boulder of liver-spotted granite,
a thumbprint on the belly of a frog.
The boys who carry ruin in their pockets
are becoming other people.
Samphire in the copper pan,
a splendour of salmon.
He’s in traffic on the bridge
and this is years from then,
but cruelty is a time traveller.
It is paper, cotton, leather, doves,
the slope of Monte Carlo,
chanterelles, the Shangri-Las
the valley of the Rhône,
the Wichita lineman
and its baritone guitar.
A knock at the door, she goes
and a one and a two and a
one two three four.
First published in Poetry Ireland Review 123, December 2017