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Jack Ross    (1913-2003)


  • Refrigerium


  • Quasimodo's Last Poem
Jack Ross




the damned have holidays – excursions … to this country
– C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce


Acc. to St. Thomas                                                    It came to me
Aquinas                                                    like a light
the smallest pain                 in the centre of my vision

blanking out                         in Purgatory
all                                                              is greater than
but the peripheries                                                   the greatest on earth

Screaming                                                                  walking up Rangitoto
I buried my face                                      stopping
in my teacher’s robes          winded

halfway up                           The morning! The morning!
to read out verses                                   I am caught by the morning
to the scoria                                                               & I am a ghost

it being relieved                                                         down by the wharf
however                                                   we waited                   
by the certitude                    for the ferryman

to take us                              of salvation
to the asphodels                                     establishing Holy Souls
the farther shores of                                                 in deepest


From “Roadworks: Auckland Geography.” The Imaginary Museum:
Recorded 2008 by Jack Ross on Rangitoto island.



Quasimodo’s Last Poem

Ho fiori e di notte invito i pioppi …
– Salvatore Quasimodo

My shadow’s on the other wall
of the hospital
there are flowers here
At night I ask in
poppies and plane trees from the park
 skeleton boughs
with leaves bled white

The Irish nuns never mention
as they waft about the wards
so casual
at being young and kind
/ Unanswered

I feel like an Ellis Island
lying swaddled on the ground
Perhaps I’ll be dying for good
overhearing rumours
which I’ve never understood
at the end of theory

I can’t run away        stuck
with being faithful
to my visible means of decay
I can see the absurdity
of choosing between death
and this illusion
boom-boom  the heart.


Poetry NZ 26 (2003). Recorded 2008 by Jack Ross on Rangitoto island and at the University of Auckland.




Last updated 21 May, 2024