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John Canfield
John Canfield

John Canfield grew up in Cornwall and now lives in London. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Oxford Poetry, Transom Journal, A Poetic Primer for Love and Seduction: Naso was my Tutor, Newspaper Taxis and Coin Opera II. He trained as an actor, but due to a clerical error currently works in an accounts department.

John Canfield Poetry

And if it Rains



The zugzwang he was trapped in, like a burning home,

squeezed on the centre. The room was dark and cold,

curtains drawn, the air so stagnant the entire flat

retched from perpetual check, the doors gave cover

to the wood wound howl of du Pré. He could trade

a pawn, but only underpromote. What would a Grandmaster

do faced with a mating net, when even j’adoube seems to worsen

his defence? Begging for destruction, he kept one eye

on the two-faced clock, each stroke serving to issue

a warning of encroaching zeitnot. Rxf3:

some fancy Rook-work maintains a hold, but is premature.

He has strayed way beyond the two-hundred aids of The Chess Euclid.

A nightingale fills all the street with inviolable scream;

a call to see a man en prise, a failed scholar, a thwarted fool,

the king rolling on the grid.








in the basement sits a kist

of mottled layered steel,


tap in six digits, turn

the plastic X that marks the spot,


the cube unlocks. Inside on a shelf

you’ll find a scuffed gold tin, insert,


rotate the key, ease up the lid,

and probe the zip lock bag within,


finding currency from every cankered state:

necrotic green, fresh bruise blue,


jaundice yellow, burst blood vessel red.

Arrange each portrait into order of rank:


monarch, despot, inventor, writer.

Gather them all into a stack, close each lid and door,


go up by the back into the street,

and scatter them all to their designated wind.


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