John Kinsella

Two Poems
June 22, 2023 Kinsella John

Walking into a Montage of Leonora Carrington Paintings As I Approach Shönbuch Forest, Tübingen, in May


There was intent. To bisect the fields
under heavy skies, rain steady, obscuring
vision through pearlescent glasses. Fava beans
to the right, spring wheat to the left.


My friend Urs, who died two years ago,
had a white rocking horse from his childhood.
I once slept in a room in Berlin with it poised to rock
by my head. I expected the images I received.
Which took me to the edge. But I confess
that I was trying to draw too much out of pupating.
De-mystified, the shutter sheet flapped open
but ignored the pollen. Left right left,


mused the fruits of last seasons. Hesitations
seeping from afterlife. Which is no confirmation.
All those cultural archives saddled in phones,
reined where old leaves glower under new.


The forest refuses a history of bloody agendas.
The forest refuses a myth-making of exclusion.
Masks are painted in slashes on trunks: red and blue.
Even as trees die in their thousands, they refuse.


Forgetting a forest is an abrupt act of foliage.
Remembering is a fossil-fuel alarm set in no future.
Tracy remembers we are walking a forest path.
She hasn’t been there yet, but sees the red kites.


When I became bird under the eaves a branch
fell fast and left no afterimage. A red evening
was hunted to extinction. It was never outdoors.
Voles taking measurements, setting hydrometers.


There was intent. To bisect the fields
under heavy skies, rain steady, obscuring
vision through thick glasses. Minotaur
to the right, Mother’s tales to the left.



Six Images Collated on a Walk to and from Hagelloch Village


The heron overflying
burgeoning wheat
growing as fast
as its wings sweep.


Will I pass this way a year on
and find the gleaming fungi
pushing aside shade to make
their deep cupolas of light?


The ‘paradise’ of orchard meadows
accompanies as pied wagtails
cross the path from forest,
a slug garlanded by blossom.


Photographing the chimes
of a church bell before
the tower comes into view —
magpie, bell ringer, counter.


Woodpile greater in volume
than the fruit trees it is stacked
between — a bird box swinging
though the air that feigns stillness.


I try to keep the chapel in sight —
shifting angles, reconfiguring.
Lost behind hill and forest,
overdetermined beacon.

John Kinsella’s poetry volume Insomnia was published by WW Norton in the US in 2020. Norton will publish his new selected poems in 2025, and a new collection of poetry, Aporia, will appear with Turtle Point Press, also in 2025. He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, Emeritus Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University, and an Affiliated Scholar with Kenyon College.