Four Poems

B.T. Joy

Photo Credit: John Carleton

The Sifting Of Rain

the sifting of rain
and again the world enters
this small room at night
the outer and the inner
in constant interplay
and the sway and bend
of light through glass
even alone
I’m together
with the talk of water
over dark green leaves
in an unfamiliar garden
familiar weather
sweeps northward on the wind
tonight I thought
the ceilings tore and trembled
such a shadow seemed to weigh,
from where I lay, its colossal heaviness
above my head
and then turning to the bedside lamp
I saw the tiny wing, transparent and fluttering,
on the naked bulb
this will be the way with things
and that remembered death I feared
in childhood’s first breathlessness
will never come
nor the one I fear tonight
warm and enclosed
from the climate’s harsh tenderness
in this same way all things
have lost their meaning
so that when I say
now that I have had enough
I speak no more regarding pain
but of blessings sure
and soft as rain


A Common Drift Of Snow

through cotswold glass
snow is falling on the white lawns
obscured from sight
we only see the flurried shadows;
their journey in the wind
and even in December air
each dusting lasts
just a moment
I sit, indoors,
and think of things out there
that gleam their own
unmirrored shapes
and then are gone
they will try to tell you too
that you are worth nothing at all
to react is to cast
a shade of truth
on an utter fallacy
instead be
what you can’t help but be;
the intricacy of frozen water;
a perfect instant caught
in the vision of the world
see clearly,
you are no more insignificant
than any particle of this wonder
wanderer or stay-at-home
scholar or craftsman, both
or neither
you, keeping your promise,
are the keeper of promises
standing beneath the open, winter sky
you, breaking your promise,
are the breaker of promises standing
beneath the open,
you, unblemished,
can’t step one foot from beauty
and I love you
like the air loves the snow
we have touched, so briefly,
but that briefness is so long;
known each other so imprecisely
yet inhabited, these constant years,
a common spirit
so let’s try
no more to be understood
not now, with our gentle gurus,
their pale, cotton dresses wheeling,
as they come in hosts descending
from heaven to the cold earth
hidden from sight and yet not caring
what patch of land receives their gift
and what breath of air accepts
their momentary light


Each Petal On The River

each petal on the river
is flowing somewhere
in this valley the levels of the water
are low throughout the year
and we struggle to imagine how
anything can rise and travel down
again from the mountain foothills
to seas that hush in constant stillness
but each petal on the river
is flowing somewhere
the tree, in spring’s lateness,
relinquishes that weightlessness
it drifts, scattering pink in sunlight,
and nestling where the lotus flowers sit;
in the soft dimples of a new element
moving, already, where elder-blossoms went
and because each petal on the river
is flowing somewhere
your life should not be spent despairing
forever lost, and forever seeking,
the stream has always found its way
even without the petal’s constancy
and how do you know it is not the next turn—
where an ocean is waiting; to carry you home?


Open The Doors

open the doors
or better yet, have none
be permeable; a roofed shelter
through the harsh weather
start receiving pain
like a welcomed guest
the guest comes and goes
but the house remains your own
if agony is on its way
set another place at the table
prepare another meal and drain
the last drop from the wine bottle
leave this life
with an empty bank account
your eyes two wells of water
coloured by the fireworks above
leave this life
inwardly naked;
able to surrender to the slightest wind,
to your own most obvious antithesis
throw off that part that says this, or that
hear, like a remembrance, the single chord of Being
make a room for death
and death will sleep on the job
when it wakes, you’ll be gone already
irredeemably lost in eternity
or better yet, be there now
drop your name willingly, into that pallid hand,
like passing counterfeit coins
into the purse of the ferryman


B.T. Joy has had work previously published in Toasted Cheese as well as with such journals as Obsessed With Pipework, Presence, Canon’s Mouth, Paper Wasp, Bottle Rockets, Mu, Frogpond among others. Email: BTJ0005uk[at]

Five Poems

B.T. Joy

Dewdrop in the morning
Photo Credit: hatalmas

In Sun And Summer Dew

“I want your sun to reach my raindrops,
so your heat can raise my soul
upward like a cloud.”

today each man and woman is a raindrop
and the truth, a shaft of steady daylight

today we see the coloured blooms that lay
within us, dry as seeds, through wintering

and we remember that every sphere of dew
holds, at its deepest centre, an image of the sun

your hand in mine and two stars are shared between us;
the stars of your eyes and the hardness of this body
burns away like insubstantial rain



morning sun scattering from the prism
and even the cynic is caught in the show
all the physical properties of light
colours trancing, in shifts on the wall,

it doesn’t matter that some have taken colour for their life’s work;
join with the eyes, that bathe in rainbows, or define
light in proofs as beautiful as songs

it is all praise; a reason to grasp this mystery with both hands,
to watch the answers sift, between fingers, like daylight through glass


In Search Of Jia Dao’s Buddha

cloud obscures the hill
winds change; a hill obscuring cloud
they say this is the way with gladness
long summer days when the cherry-blossoms admitted
only reddish light into the partial shade

and we sat on garden benches hoping for direct sun
now ash-coloured dawn through bare limbs and the quiet haze of rain

I have risen from these wet pines; to seek the master in the fog entangled hills
and leading me, through this cloud, each now and then, a scent of mountain herbs


A Meditation On The Age Of Love

to be the earth with its one satellite
and the moon that circles its single joy

we’ve been heard to say this romance was invented
in the poetry of Aquitaine; by the troubadours of Provence

how can we miss the antiquity of affection? in a world
of tidal pull and lunar cycle, one arising; and the other, becoming

in a life where we walked, lake-sides in the heave of spring,
to watch the waters, deep and cool as night, gloss with paleness only seen
in the space between the lines of a love poem


Advice To A Traveller

for months and years now you’ve sought
through a magnitude of stars for answers

but having seen your soul’s stomping ground
may I suggest you rest from this immensity

look for the red aphids that trail among
the lichened stones in the dead of winter

you will realise your delusion
when you cannot balance
the universe on their backs


B.T. Joy has had work published in Toasted Cheese previously as well as with such journals as Obsessed With Pipework, Presence, Canon’s Mouth, Paper Wasp, Bottle Rockets, Mu, and Frogpond, among others. Email: BTJ0005uk[at]

Five Poems

B.T. Joy

Photo Credit: quadrapop

Love Story Dreaming

tonight the moon is a pale woman
in love again with the night earth

tonight the earth is a war-sick man
in love again with the distant moon

tonight the heartbeat of seas quicken
and lips of rivers rush on estuary shores

and somewhere between
the skyline and the ground

a man falls into a dream
of a pale woman
and a war-sick man

tonight there is a current of sadness
palpable as ozone in the frozen fog air

tonight glad winds run the pathways
consoling even shut blooms from grief

candle-flame stars shudder with old light
stones shift, peaks reassemble their shapes,

and among it all
loneliness reconciling with solitude

and tonight I am a man
falling into a dream of a pale woman
and a war-sick man


The Rub

the sun whitens
the morning silences
that hiss and shiver among
the crannied shadows
and in June’s heat
the butterfly abandons itself
to the maze of the dandelion fields
the greatest obstacle
to universal love
is the prerequisite of admitting
the complexity of individual love
how can I love everyone
before I see my love for you
not as a bird nested in a certain heart
but as a bird in flight through the dizzying
vastness of sky?


My Love For The World

my love for the world
is an old man’s love
a patting
of the hedge-row’s shoulders
a washing
of the feet of trees
I’m told I’m young
but even in that I feel the world
and I are growing old together
the wind is our tired argument
and the rain the tenderness after
with hyacinth whispers
she calls me deeper
with fingers of grass
she caresses me
and not obsessed
to make love
I only touch love
sunlit leaf
by sunlit leaf


Why I Write

for now
I am almost breath
a human being
doing nothing
you ask me why
I write
I answer that I’m not
a poet because I can’t be
a painter
that I write
because I hear words
and fall in love with them
so many years a writer
and you, who’ve only started,
teach me poetry
telling me
about the nasturtiums
in your sister’s garden
you called them
a bank of orange light


Last Meeting

I think of him breathing oxygen
on the couch-bed that forgot him

the ashes are ten years old now
and I have seen regions, worlds

here a fluttering of jackdaws rise
casting shade on whitened water

and the next moment they merge
with dark woods on the shoreline


B.T. Joy is a Glaswegian poet who received his Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Film Studies in 2009. He has written two volumes of haiku: In The Arms Of The Wind and The Reeds That Tilt The Sky, as well as having poetry published in Obsessed With Pipework, Toasted Cheese, Presence, Canon’s Mouth, Paper Wasp, Sketchbook, Bottle Rockets, Mu and Frogpond. He has been an administrator, a ranch hand, a writing mentor, a farmer and a salesman; living and working in Glasgow, London and the USA. Email: BTJ0005uk[at]