Five Rugby Poems by Marc Harris

In November we held a competition asking for your best rugby poems to celebrate the World Cup. The winner was ‘On Winning’ by Sarah Rowland Jones but there were two other entries we felt must be shared and so, to mark the Six Nations, we are publishing poems by the runners up in February and March. Our runner up this month is Marc Harris. 

Marc Harris is a poet and author whose short stories and poems have appeared in magazines and journals such as Agenda, Poetry Ireland, the Countryman Magazine and Evergreen. He has published two books and a pamphlet of poetry, Rhythms of Nature (Little Egret Press), Wild Tales & Rural Rides (self-published) and Sentience 14 Poems (self-published), from which his rugby poems are taken. Some of his rugby poetry was previously published in the New Welsh Review, and was exhibited with paintings in St David's Hall in Cardiff, at an exhibition to celebrate the Rugby World Cup in 1999.


The Packs

Face to face,
compact like coal;
coalesced by a rich seam,
muscle, bone, scream.

The ‘put-in;’

and the hooker picks his prize.

As tunnels collapse,
and the coal-face cracks,
the pit-ponies of the underworld,
burst into light.


The Winning Score

The wing’s feet
  stitch a seam to the line –
zip-fast, jinking run,
unzipping the crowd,
shrouded in the flames of passion,
  fashion a roaring pocket of sound.


The Scrum-half

snaps at heels,
bites at legs,
paws for thought;
spins a pass,
chips ahead,
barks at backs,
burrows for balls –
around rucks and mauls.

The scrum-half,
snaps up tries.


Ghosts in Wax
(for the passing of Cardiff Arms Park*)

Pitch-black night;
on terraced clouds
proud greats
pass candles in the wind.

Out on the wings
wax drips as warm rain –
wax figures,
receive a pass –

scorch the grass.

And smoking forwards,
thunder towards posts;
ghosts in wax,
wax lyrical upon a dream.

In vaporous seams,
melt into night.

*Cardiff Arms Park, the old National Stadium, was demolished in the late 1990s to make way to The Millennium Stadium; now called the Principality Stadium.


Radio Rugby

Pitch and tone
stitch together,
a picture in my mind.

Beyond the sometime cackle,
I see the tackle, ruck and maul;
amongst the backs
the ball flies as if by wire –
backs, who scissor sharp,
snip at sound.


Sentience 14 Poems is available from the Books Council of Wales: £3.99


Marc Harris