Poetry by David Nash in the White Review

David Nash’s poem in seven parts for the White Review:


1. Cessation of Breath: Is He Breathing?


He’s not breathing, and he cannot go on like this. He

needs air. Mouth-to-mouth is a fool’s game: you must

not believe that you have enough air for the both of

you. The body should supply itself, but in this it can be

encouraged. Breath begets breath, and life life. One O

says yes to another O and that equals oxygen. One god

nods to the next god, who nods to the next and so on.

Therefore plant plants, as follows:

(i) The chest is just a gathering of shapes as it

is, and it knows full well what it means to be

a shrubbery. There is depth and breadth

enough for soil, and it lends itself naturally

to inhabitance. From there to conurbation.

Drop seeds and sow. It grows in spite of


(ii) The extremities are a framework already in

place: honeysuckles, for example, thrive on

the order inherent in limbs; fingers are the

beginnings of mathematics, and you will

find the sweetpea loops nicely to a ring;

ivies are many and incessant.

(iii) The holes of the head are a blessing. Eye

sockets, in particular, are favourable to


2. Cardiac Arrest: Is There Any Rhythm to Him?


They say: cut the wood yourself and it will warm you

twice. It is the same for the heart – if you beat it, it will

beat. And it is the same with blood – it won’t move

unless you move it. This is the kind of work that must

be done by hand. This is monks and manuscripts. This

is sculpture. This is the work your father did, is where

you came from.

(i)        Locate the heart by feeling

(ii)       Trace out the gridlocked veins

(iii)      Prepare the bell for pealing

(iv)       Make fists and take your aim

(v)        Pound it till it feels like kissing

(vi)       Push the blood between your hands

(vii)      Force the heart to miss what’s missing

(viii)     Forbid it to neglect its plan

(ix-xii)  Of all the laws that you could leave him

Leave him only one:

Hurt could your heart every man

Hurt can his heart none.


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