Young John Clare

                                   Helpston, Northamptonshire, 1806

Not often do I find a nest fallen
Among seed pods in autumn, three blue-white
Eggs broken, rags of rucked and yellow flesh
And hinge of beak still beckoning ants, but
One egg sealed, the fluids of birdmaking
A milky galaxy bundled inside—
So smooth and dry I want to swivel it
Wholly into my mouth despite dirt-flecks,
Leave the vowel-sheen off the oval shell,
Tumble that globule of starling within
Until its unspooled trill begins to boil,
Slips its bony case and kindles my voice.
O then would I sing! I would have no choice.

by Michael Waters

Welcome to the Poetry Centre’s new series of Weekly Poems. As always, we are most grateful to our publishers for providing us with such good work, and encourage you to read widely amongst their authors. If you use social media and haven’t already ‘liked’ us on Facebook, do look up our page here, and then follow us on Twitter by searching for @brookespoetry. We hope you enjoy this year’s selection of poems.

‘Young John Clare’ is copyright © Michael Waters, 2011. It is reprinted from Gospel Night, published by BOA Editions, 2011.

Michael Waters’ previous book, Darling Vulgarity, was a finalist for the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has published ten collections of poetry, including five from BOA Editions. In 2004, he chaired the poetry panel for the National Book Awards. He is Professor of English at Monmouth University and also teaches in the Drew University MFA Program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation. Waters lives with his wife, poet Mihaela Moscaliuc, in Ocean, NJ.

You can watch a video of Michael Waters at a BOA event reading from this collection at this page, and read an interview with him at

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.  By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public.  Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. This year BOA celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary. To find out more about BOA Editions, click here. You can also find BOA on Facebook, and on Twitter by searching for @boaeditions.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.