The North-South Divide

The North-South Divide

fills with flood-water;
the bows of Scotland lift clear
of the Atlantic, cod roam
the East Anglian plains; kelp
throttles Sherwood, the chimneys
of the Midlands slowly barnacle,
Cumbria tilts;
congers lie in catacombs
cold-wiring our relics,
our kings' bones;
a whale hangs a moment
singing in the vault
of St Paul's; men dive
through their Southern libraries,
where crabs unpick the calfskin
of our histories;
Stratford Under Avon
is swanless and rip-tidal,
hagfish haunt Leicester Square,
anglerfish twinkle
through Trafalgar's oyster beds.
Look from Manchester
out to sea: the South you knew
from quiz shows and road maps,
from nursery rhymes and bad news
is gathering a storm
to its heaving,
gull-broached,
heavy-breakered bosom.


from The Brink (Picador, 2003), © Jacob Polley 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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Jacob Polley

Jacob Polley Reading from his poems

1Smoke

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2The Owls

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3The Kingdom of Sediment

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4You

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5The North-South Divide

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6Economics

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7Man

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8The Weasel

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9A Jar of Honey

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10Declaration

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11Leaf

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12October

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13Night-doll

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14Moving House

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15The Crow

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16Saturday Matinée

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17Rain

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18Elder

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19Sally Somewhere

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20Attic

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21The Remedy

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22Dandelions

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23Salmonary

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24Friday

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25Decree

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26A Crow's Skull

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27The Distance

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28The Cheapjack

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29At Home

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30The Prescription

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31Snow

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32The Byre

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33Wild Hyacinths

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Books by Jacob Polley