Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

Poems by B.T. Joy



After viewing The Achievement Of The Grail

-Edward Burne-Jones et al.


We had already heard the call. It came

from the deep woods, from beds of wildflowers

and standing lilies by the chapel door.

We went largely alone. Even across the sea,

awed by their wings of cinnabar thread,

our companions stopped, bowed their heads,

prayed as a penitent might. And we, largely alone,

shield on our backs, lance lost, knelt in garden scent,

and, perfectly permeable, we saw the shining prize.

Its innards like a trumpet of morning glory in the sun.

Its base, sturdy as the foot of a common oak,

unshakable as myth, thick rooted in the soil.

We had already heard the call. Though many said:

This will come to nothing. What you’re chasing

is froth on the ocean; is dew on a petal’s hand.

There were giants, nights under the lonely moon,

and women, young, and in their sheer nightgowns

who said: Stay home. Stay warm. Don’t listen.

But we had already heard, without having listened,

the horn-blow barely audible under history’s strings.

And the sound, once heard, became a vision.

Restlessness filled us. Our idle walks in spring woods

would excruciate. Open flowers under generous shade

appearing cup-like as they did; appearing to contain

more blood than rain.


Hell Is A Beautiful Woman


Those first theologians

to devise a concept of hell

weren’t postulating a physical realm

but offering a metaphor

for the burning they themselves had felt

in knowing

but not touching God.


That’s why they say hell will happen

within the sight of Christ.


That’s why, in those gaudy Tibetan freezes,

there are buddhas sitting in the lotus coloured flames


Think of it as a beautiful woman.

Think of it as a great

but impossible love.




Okay, so there’s still some strange pain. But I’m living

in the same world as chicory, morning glory and black willow.

The same sun that shilly-shallies over grass, through bright trees,

its light too falls on this face; on these hands and eyes.

A massive crow stabs at the mud between the weeds in the morning

and every day the house-spider spins a new and effervescent web.

There is rain and colour and mountains and the sea and every animal

seems to know its place in this. What does it matter then if I

am still so often frightened and lost? What does it matter if I have

or have no purpose, like those things have, shining, and wild?

Maybe I’m still entitled to give thanks. Maybe this is enough:

this joy.



B.T. Joy is a Scottish poet and fiction writer living and working in Glasgow. He has published poetry and short fiction in journals, magazines, anthologies and podcasts worldwide; including poetry in Forward PoetryPoetry Quarterly,PresenceBottle RocketsFrogpond and The Newtowner and horror stories in Static MovementSurreal Grotesque,James Ward Kirk FictionHuman Echoes, MicroHorror, Flashes In The Dark, SQ Magazine and Forgotten Tomb Press. After receiving his honours degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies in 2009 he went on, in 2012, to receive a PGDE from Strathclyde University and has since taught as a High School English teacher. He is also the author of two volumes of haiku In The Arms Of The Wind (2010) and The Reeds That Tilt The Sky (2011). His haiga have appeared with theWorld Haiku AssociationHaiga Online and Daily Haiga. He was one of six writers nominated for The Ravenglass Poetry Press Competition of 2012; judged by Don Paterson. For further information on writing and publications please visit the writer’s website: http://btj0005uk.wix.com/btjoypoet





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