‘The Bunkers at Wissant’ – a poem by Will Stone


The below poem is taken from Will Stone’s latest poetry collection, The Slowing Ride, published by Shearsman last autumn.




    The Bunkers at Wissant


Once they were masters of the horizon,
the steel of their blast doors shone,
the barrels in their clean mouths moved
confidently side to side, up and down.
Loyal minions fussed around them,
made ready their metal honeycomb.
Like leashed dogs they awaited their walk,
through storms or on clear starry nights
when a low moon kissed their bald crowns.
But the invasion passed around them,
guns torn out, they were abandoned.
Hollow and silent, they remained rooted
like trees condemned with a cross.
Resignedly they rebranded themselves
as lavatories, a mortuary for tramps.
Then they began to sink, pitch forward,
livestock drawn to drink the mere waters
through their half-moon embrasures.
Partially submerged, as if in limbo
they are unable to retreat or move on.
Old men fish beside their senile forms,
on their grey hide in white paint
‘Baignade Interdite’, but in summer
swimmers lay their towels there,
to steam on the baking concrete.


Will Stone

About Will Stone

Will Stone is a writer, poet and translator of French, Franco-Belgian and German literature, living in Suffolk. His most recent books are a translation of Wilhelm Waiblinger’s 'Friedrich Hölderlin's Life, Poetry & Madness' (Hesperus Press, 2018), 'The Art of the City' by Georg Simmel (Pushkin Press, 2018), and 'Surrender to Night: Collected Poems of Georg Trakl' (Pushkin Press, 2019). His debut poetry collection, 'Glaciation' (Salt, 2007), won the international Glenn Dimplex Award for Poetry. A second collection, 'Drawing in Ash' (Salt), followed in 2011. Shearsman Books subsequently produced new editions of both these collections, followed by a third, 'The Sleepwalkers', in 2016. His essays, reviews, poetry and translations have appeared in Agenda, Edinburgh Review, the Guardian, the Independent, The Irish Times, PN Review, Poetry Review, The Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement, among others.