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3 poems by Toby Martinez de las Rivas

The White Dog / Dust / Magnificat

Everywhere there is a white dog with blue eyes

& the deep cavernous red velvet of its placid mouth’s

interior a heart’s precursor

everywhere beneath the iron tracery of the lamp-

posts beneath the black candle

of the stone-pines from the dust of the earth I look

up the grass burns with a gesture I mean

its brightness is a Magnificat my soul doth magnify &c

blazing sincerely barely-cowled / veiled gloire

the clouds are sutures, veils.


The Bears / The White Dog / Revelation

The great woods of the future running with bears, bears

with no voices, the ruin of cities, steel

girders, a shattered bell, the white dog with blue

eyes in the overgrowth; snow is falling

forever with its sparkling cold hands to bury

the Tower, to silence the parliaments,

the places of buying & selling, to bring the knees

of my heart to the earth & the sea that is

the lyric of the world – world that is everlasting

night because you are not in it.

I Am David / The Wind / A Plea

Remember a book that moved me so: I Am David.

The cover – a boy in a forest looking

back at me & beside him an Alsatian crouched

on the forest floor: they journey a good way together

until terribly the dog is shot & the boy

finds himself exquisitely alone. Wind sings in the wires.

Unnerving the way the scene wavers, goes

dark, something horrible engulfs the voice, high

& tearing – a kind of weak & reedy falsetto. Do not,

shepherd, lead us into a bleak night.


Toby Martinez de las Rivas has published three collections with Faber & Faber: Terror (2014), Black Sun (2018) and Floodmeadow (2023). He received The Wiener Holocaust Library International Book Art Prize in 2014, The Andrew Waterhouse Award in 2008 and an Eric Gregory Award in 2005. He is the 2023/24 Blackburn Distinguished Artist in Residence at Duke University.


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