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from Twenty Four Preludes & Fugues on Dmitri Shostakovich,

2006, Arc Publications, ISBN    1-904614-34-5

(Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2007)



Mirror Fugue


The truly-dead are those that are forgot,

and a man without a memory’s a dead man.

He will tell you everything he can.

Friends, relatives, acquaintances, the never-met—


their fates still bruise him. Listen:

the slow drips of tears, of heartbreak,

freeze and refreeze. His grief is glazed

as Leningrad’s winter waterways

deepen, deepen by reflection

till the ice is far too thick to crack.


He sees their faces through his frozen tears

and finds himself mirrored with them.

You want him to sing under this ice?

today he has only the one theme.




Today I have only one theme.

You want me to sing under this ice

and find myself, mirrored with them?

I see their faces through my frozen tears


(this ice which is far too thick to crack)

deepened, deepened by reflection,

as Leningrad’s winter waterways

freeze and refreeze. My grief is glazed

in the slow drip of tears, of heartbreak.

Their fates bruise me still. Listen,


friends, relatives, acquaintances, the never-met,

I will tell you everything I can,

for a man without a memory’s a dead man.

Truly, the dead are those that are forgot.


Joanna Boulter


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poetry favourites:
Vane Women
Diamond Twig

and in the shop ...
collection -
"Twenty Four Preludes & Fugues on Dmitri Shostakovich",
Arc Publications

pamphlets -
"The Hallucinogenic Effects of Breathing",
"On Sketty Sands",
Arrowhead Press;

"Running with Unicorns",
The Bay Press

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