River Rise

after Mark Lanegan

Song like something

seeping out of the rock—

clear, elemental, ancient.

Long lead-in from deep in the middle-of-nowhere hills,

the lowlands— an old country crescendo.

Silt particle guitar line slips

imagery into the water—

quicksilver pulse of stickleback,

slow beat of trout in shadow under a brick bridge.

Sweet pink muscle spun with polymers

small enough to take in,

too small to choke off.

Dust, damselfly, demoiselle.

Overgrowth obscures the bank.

The border drink here

is the brown beer of Rutland and Leicestershire—

lets call it where I’m calling from—

not your mescal borrachos,

A civil war in the voice,

long gone kings at their rest.

One last night for the kingdom of rain.

No nightingales left, Mark, but yours.

Put me in the submerged shopping trolley and take me home.

From Will’s latest poetry collection, ‘Natural Burial Ground’, published by Corsair on 7 March. Buy a copy from our friends at Real Magic Books.

‘Will Burns is a soulful English poet of the kind we don’t make enough of’ Max Porter.