Two Poems by Jon Whitbread

Poems and featured artwork by: Jon Whitbread

U.K. poet Jon Whitbread’s two poems burst with the complicated music of experience and reflection. In a meditation on globalization, as in “Empire,” and in “Peckham to Bow,” a kind of travelogue which brings getting from one London neighborhood to another to an almost cosmic scale, Whitbread writes a densely layered poetry steeped in the historical and syntactic grandeur of the present moment. We are particularly delighted to report that these are Mr. Whitbread first published poems.


Your currency is devalued
So I try to find Rwanda.
My shame is equated by yours
At last.

I suggest a civilised language
Only to discover
Another has been there first.
So now

I am prospector
Divining amidst dirt
And his poor use of names
And words

I come up black
Covered in detritus
My mouth full of diamonds

To find a way to
Slow down time
Or hold it back
Without Disaster

Or a
Blue Plaque
Or cat-like propensity
For sleep.


Peckham to Bow

Smears of hair
On cyclists backs

Mysterious signs
On abandoned mattresses

The legendary lack
Of legend here detracts

As gods give way
To emperors and empresses

Afflicted by this
Caducean cataract

No thing benign, each man
A Faust and Mephistopheles

Gateway to the east
Fruit falling from the trees

Apollo rises
Sinks upon his knees.


Jon Whitbread is a stonemason, carver and sculptor based in Brixton, South London. In his poetry and sculpture,  Jon attempts to distill the very essence of things. He is currently working on a series of stone pieces based on T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.

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