John McAuliffe

John McAuliffe


‘Long live the weeds!’ Gerard Manley Hopkins

Spiny green uprights
spindle jointed tent-pole arms
over the yellowing green,

drawing sunlight
into the earth, hollow aerials
for an inch-deep neurosis

that sprawls under the ground
from next door, beneath slatted timber
I’ve tilted

so it makes a fence,
a useless, purely decorative
backdrop to their green points.

Drought, salt, poison…
Uprooted, snapped, set aside,
little bales of them

wilt and brown.
Yet up stand the new dewy tips
I would stunt and control,

the ones and twos of their branching,
high, waving distractions
lording it

over the slow blades
and, say these far-flung bristles,
nothing to what is

galloping underneath.
They know neglect and care
and do well by either,

my tending, choosy cutting
and levelling intentions
just something else to grow

out of,
toppling up into the rain,
as I do,

not exactly equal
or opposite to such sideways, green

JOHN MCAULIFFE is an Irish poet who teaches at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing. Books include The Way In (Gallery), Stockholm Syndrome (Smith Doorstop), and, forthcoming, a pamphlet A Good Connection (Periplum, 2019).