Poems by Miriam Tomusk

Ode to As You Like It

Week 6, Trinity 2017

I went on a walk yesterday
where the twilight whispered
of a yesterday I wasn’t even sure


One that echoed in the cloisters
        And beckoned,
                  Willing me to walk
As a chorus resounded.

I caught a glimpse in the garden
and heard chatterings in the chapel
till I was face to face with Arden
and saw that what I met with wasn’t a Yesterday
but a Today
enriched with the song of countless yesterdays.

I went on a walk yesterday
one as I very much liked it.

A no to nostalgia

Week 8, Trinity 2017

Time’s anger has flared up again
as it does every year in June
But I profusely refuse to let him blow his fuse
even when he clangs on with untimely cues

Cues for what? An ending?
Well yes I suppose
But goodness know we have plenty of those
Even the year’s not drawing to a close

So I say no to nostalgia;
I can’t write wistfully about mumps
or the election of Trump
or even rowing bumps
(though that’s mostly because I still don’t know what they are)

This is a celebration gosh darnit
We’ve survived the whole year
And the pressing of time (and prelims) shan’t detract from my cheer

An October mist

Week 2, Michaelmas 2017

An October mist the Bodleian kissed
As though with gentleness to say
“Behold no more life beyond that door
—you must make haste on your essay.”

What a foolish fog to try to rob
Me of my procrastination
With such joy outside, why remain confined?
The autumnal Ox, my destination.

My reading beckoned but, well, I reckoned
Stepping outside was nought to fear.
Essays come weekly, albeit quite bleakly
But this season just once every year.

I returned that eve, it quite hard to believe
Just how time had become much tighter.
With a weary sigh, realised then I
—My essay would be an all-nighter.

Mamun: The Light of my Life

Week 6, Michaelmas 2017

Though the nights are now dark
I’m a-Freya’d not
for Mamun shines over me

over my path through uni Parkes,
across my left and Wright
my Easton West
warmth that keeps me from Shiv’ring through the night.

And when to-Munro comes
as I’m Tuck’d in bed
Ivo I can say that it’s true
although I thought I Newtons before I came here
Akshayly I’ve been truly enlightened by you.

Christmas Jumper

Week 8, Michaelmas 2017

The weaver’s hands did tremble
as they threaded through the night.
The vision sat before him
begged a peculiar might.

One thread he chose for he had
plucked it straight from Christmas past.
Wool softened by nostalgia
till a rosy hue it cast.

Anther he had stolen
from a caroller’s red frock,
which seemed itself to ring the bells
calling forth the yuletide flock.

One final strand procured he
from my grandma’s apron string
so I’d ne’er be away from
roast turkey and good tidings.

All night he wove so when awake I’d find
A cosy jumper of the Christmas kind.

Essaying in Hilary

Week 2, Hilary 2018

My words race the minutes, one for one
If two make it out I applaud
And three demand a snack
And four an excursion around Christ Church Meadows
until the cows come back.

At five I pause to admire my work
—that’s one for every twelve seconds!
At this rate I’ll be finished in time
for 10 hours’ sleep, I reckon.
It’s like a waterfall of wordsmithery

A novel in the periphery-
Imagine how quick I might be
…If didn’t use my essay writing
—as practice for calligraphy.

Haiku in lieu of poem

Week 4, Hilary 2018

Poems cannot spring
From a mind infected by
February cold

Room Ballot Sonnet

Week 6, Hilary 2018

What shall I compare thee to, room ballot?
Thou art more snakey and tempestuous
Than any of the foul’st of finalists
Unlike 5th week’s, thy blues continuous
And though loss of a challenge cup remains
A leaded shadow upon mine own soul
Nought can eclipse the umbrage thou create
When the fate of a year rests in your hold
And thy eternal winter shall not fade
I fear, when I survey the damage done
When the yoke of friendship was thus severed
As groups bid against the setting sun
Oh to end the worry that might us engulf
– that we might be called last by Andy Rolfe.


Week 2, Trinity 2018

“May Day! May Day!” we cry,
the ink dripping into our cocktails
of ibids and furthermores,
drowning the baselines of our arguments
as we tread towards dawn on the shore
of washed up feedback
and mysterious marks all over our shoes, illegible by 5 am
though whether intent or circumstance is to blame
I haven’t the foggiest.
The haze is cleared away by that arising from my café,
reordering our priorities;
a reminder
to not miss Magdalen bridge.


Week 8, Trinity 2018

Sepia clings to the year already
a film that has settled to blur
harsh edges
and make fuzzy
the lines we’d rather forget,
tinted not with rose
but a swirl of Earl Grey
and the dust of settled arguments
and pinches of salt that make us see how sweet the memories were
even if reality never quite tasted the same.

I’ll gladly drink from this cup
a concoction enriched
with every stir
and added drops of reconsiderations
and realignments of times that
don’t seem quite right.

And while the flavour is my own doing,
I’ll hold the photograph in
sharp           relief

as though the imprint of nostalgia
were not formed by an overflow
from the cup
I hold in my other hand.