This week sees the publication of my next pamphlet, Bristol: 21 Poems. It contains ‘The Bristol Sonnets’, thirteen of them, and here is the first one to whet the appetite:

John Cabot

I stand on this far stretch of New-found-land,
Sea-birds swoop low. The king who gave me ‘full
And free authority’ to sail so wild
Is in his counting-house, no doubt. I pull
Fish from the teeming sea with my bare hands;
My men are gone inland, but I must stare,
Although I know no ship will ever come
Across the lengths of ocean, in the glare
Of a sun no Christian soul has seen before.
My ships are sunk, raw matchwood for the waves,
And I am old. How many years have passed
Since I set sail? Behind me lie the graves
Of those whose lust for spices drove them more
Than life itself before the storm’s dread blast.

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