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2 poems by Julian Stannard


Not A City But A Beautiful Catastrophe


Nice sitting in Bar Barracuda in the Sottoripa

under the porticos, watching the city

come to life: the fish stalls, the hum

of the sopraelevata, the early-rising priests,

the cupola of Santa Maria delle Vigne

floating in vapour, the addicts, the hustlers,

the pimps, the street sellers, the matelots,

the fish-fryers, an endless unveiling

of gestures, and the Irishman

standing on his tower in Caricamento.

By eight o’clock the sun’s broken through.

It’s going to be a long, hot day.



Madonna dell’ Orto


The vaporetto lurched and groaned.

The water rising, splashing the tables

of the café laid out on the front.

The Madonna dell’ Orto.

The boatman lines up his boat.

People holding tight as they got off,

as they got on.

A cream motoscafo thumping past.

The lagoon that day was a garden under grey.

Rain coming.

The currents firing fish,

seabirds overhead,

the fruits of the sea,

the dead rising to the surface.

We saw Stravinsky and Brodsky,

we saw Diaghilev and Pound

The water had given them their shape

their musculature, their purpose.

Half fish, half men.

Some had re-acquired their beards.

The lagoon reeled with the violins

of Olga Rudge.

Pound’s jaws wide as a barracuda’s:

snapping at the bream

snapping at the poles in the water

snapping at his reputation.


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Julian Stannard’s most recent collection is Heat Wave (Salt, 2020). He is a Reader in

English and Creative Writing at the University of Winchester.

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