Paul atten Ash

At night, when the city sleeps, 

when the world is blind to the moontide’s refrain, 

I search the unsunned recesses with blackened hands, 

running my fingers over rounded-off edges, 

in a dark contemplation of dust. 

Here are the iridescent wings 

of broken angels, embers of stars in the mirror’s tain, 

the empty plinths & toppled bronzes of our forefathers, 

and here are the city’s trophies of empire, 

its fettered ghosts, its slow rust. 

Those who fought hard for us, 

fell outside these city walls, lost on bloodied plains, 

hear their midnight cry, sense their wraith-like presence 

at the gate, calling out for us all by name, 

our past a wound, oozing pus.


Paul atten Ash

Shadow cricked its neck, the gas popping in desiccated bone; 

it waded through the Metropolis under a jellied-eel sky, alone, 

alone in the suffracaging warehouse of a ghost-grey mind. 

This was Scumday—raining knives; 

it felt a hunger descend, stormbent as a Lethean cat, 

blazing through screaming lanes. 

Shadow crept in unseen between the clearing, 

its reflection a drainbow haze in the oilslick pond, 

the daysick sun malaising behind cloud molasses. 

A rabid dog—came zoning in with kohl-black eyes, 

all pelting skin, a craze of smoking ashes— 

its unlocked jaws could swallow up the world. 

But Shadow stood still—a pillar of dead crows 

atomised to a vanishing point in mid-flight, 

slaking death with the liquid grin of a cool hand. 

A shallow form skulking at the bottom of the pool; 

a mass of tangled hair halfway down the plughole; 

a sound as living thing whose echo is its ghost.

Paul atten Ash is the pen name of Paul Nash, who lives in Bristol (UK). His poetry has been published by Acropolis Journal, Apricot Press, Bent Key Publishing, Boudicca Press, Bristol 24/7, Broken Sleep Books, Deep Adaptation Forum, Envoi, Exposed Bone, Free Verse Revolution, Ginkgo Prize, International Library of Poetry, Luain Press, MONO., Needle Poetry, Oscillations, Pissoir, Poetry School, Raw Edge, Salò Press, Seaside Gothic, Sídhe Press, Tandem, the6ress, The Hyacinth Review, Tiny Seed Literary Journal & Press, Understanding, Visual Verse, and Where The Meadows Reside. His poem ‘Vital Signs’ was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prize 2023; ‘Lines from a Hermitage’ was shortlisted for the Hexham Poetry Competition 2023; ‘Beneath Kintsugi Skies’ and ‘Eryri’ were shortlisted in the ‘Best Poem of Landscape’ category of the Ginkgo Prize 2022 and 2021; and ‘Tsunami’ won the ILP International Open Amateur Poetry Contest 1999.