After the leaves left, a chill wind came
with a day to blow in my hometown.
It was a cold return to places that had gone,
to remain a second city.
The castle’s skull still stared over the ruins
Of scrolled Victoriana, lost in a parade
of banks prinked into bars and quick hotels.
I hit the new low of High Street,
scrawled and boarded, crawling meekly
to the white hope of the station; buddleias sprouted
from the cornerstones of proud institutions,
the pubs I chopsed in, muffled long ago.
I pictured the snow and a full moon of crosses
like footprints over roofs and pavements,
the silver birds with tongues of fire. And all the bells
not ringing, with news of somewhere else.
Nicholas McGaughey has new work published/forthcoming in Stand/Poetry Wales/The Atlanta Review/The Ogham Stone/Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-21/Nawr Magazine and A470. He has published three poems IS&T previously.