Friday Feature, Poem, Poetry

Shul – F. R. Kesby

We are delighted to share with you two poems from Maytree 25 as part of our featured publication for Friday.

Shul is the debut collection from Leeds based writer and creator F. R. Kesby.

Shul will be released on the 30 April 2021 with a Facbook Live launch event on the 1 May which you can join by following this link –

The word Shul is both a Yiddish word meaning synagogue (derived from the German for ‘school’) and a Buddhist concept of emptiness left behind when something has moved on; hollows left after houses have been removed, footprints on paths, the wearing of rocks by a river. In Buddhism this emptiness is sought out, the relief of the space left when one stops worrying about the emotional marks you have left.

In this collection of poems F R Kesby has sought to explore those marks they have left on their own world and the relationship between their memories of physical and emotional spaces. From comparing the memories of their home town compared to what it looks like now to viewing their relationship through one small bed to exploring places heard about every day in the news, each poem links place and soul in a way that respects the history of the word Shul, both Buddhist and Jewish, while being intensely personal.


In the land of boarded up shops
and barred up houses
I find myself watching a woman
struggle through the word ‘alive’.
I tell her; you are alive,
I am alive, a dog is alive, a flower is alive.
I could list the dead things instead; her family,
her friends, her lovers,
the dream of democracy in her country
and the thousands of husbands and sons
who fought for it.
I could teach her the myths; the gods, 
the baked clay, the long crawl 
from single cells to terrorist cells.
I could teach her the science; the sun
giving energy to plants that give energy to us
that we use to make bombs.
Instead I repeat; you are alive.
She whispers; I am alive.

I could almost believe
I helped her understand.

They’re Resurfacing the Road
We Used to Meet On 

I push my boot into the tar,
press the thin covering
against the heat of a reshaping world.
I’ve got 60 seconds
before my sole melts.
I flatten the bubbles,
stamp out creases,
smooth the edges.
I dance on the spot
where you used to wait for me.
I make the old new.
60 seconds is all it takes
to change a soul.

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