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This poem is taken from PN Review 261, Volume 48 Number 1, September - October 2021.

Four Poems Sean O'Brien
Lord Back-End

The gabardine. The belt of twine. Brown paper
poking from the trouser-cuffs. Those rings
like knuckledusters, and the wand of bone that steers
an entourage of frosty air. You’ve been outflanked.
Now all fall down for Lord Back-End.
You that were gold shall be brought low
and you who governed dig your graves –
proverbial, it must be true –
the ring of pick-axes and spades on iron ground
is everywhere inside these woods.
Perhaps you haven’t listened. See, a moment
seals the stream in ice upon a lip of stone.
Your moon-white face is there among the fish.
You must have missed the toadstools, then,
who having grown into themselves
like Arcimboldos of deformity
renounced this world and turned to slime.

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