Catherine Edmunds – Sackbuts and Ashes

Sackbuts and Ashes

Too tired to go to bed or stay awake,
my brain teems with crippled tadpoles.
I have a need to die young and tragic
but have left it too late. I need a shave.

I so need a shave. In the next room,
the aunts break out into song again,
mimicking sagbutts. That can’t be right.
Sacabuche? Shackbussh? Shagbolt?

Sackbuts. This is why bass guitarists
look bored. We have to deal with this shit
every day. Our feet like dead fish,
our instruments, two pounds of turnips.

I used to be in a band, don’t remember it,
except I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Last
performed ’78, and even back I knew
there would never be life-size posters of me
on student walls. One of the aunts comes in,

wants me to sing. My heart, my belly, my guts
are full of loathing, so I tell her, and she says,
“Why don’t you shut up, you daft prat – come
and sing.” So I do. Wonderwall. Again.

Catherine Edmunds

Catherine Edmunds is a writer, artist, and fiddle player with an award-nominated Irish folk/rock band. Her published works include two poetry collections, five novels and a Holocaust memoir, as well as numerous short stories and poems in journals including Aesthetica, Crannóg and Ambit. She has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, shortlisted in the Bridport Prize four times, and was the 2020 winner of the Robert Graves Poetry Prize.

Sackbuts and Ashes by Catherine Edmunds was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (January 2021) judged by Oz Hardwick.

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