PostedJune 13, 2018
The pasture greyed, the rattling beck mute
behind secondary glazing, the fizz of pylons too,
in a day of scarce light. The aperture of a former
home is wide as the hours require, and
each year now we shovel our signifiers,
brushing leaves across our yards as the wind
lifts. But there is no wind. Beyond the old
neighbours’ place, twenty on foot and four in
the car, an ombré smudge of tones settles –
hawthorn, sodden, briars sagging, and mud
deep, kicked up by cows gone to the byre
for milking, or fell sheep, if there were sheep.
The power station, a blackened copse somewhere
about the edge of land, fading, its cooling
towers merged with vapours that lift, sink,
sink as the sea of Hibernia turns away, its
back brushing the pile of exhausted chimneys,
almost gone, almost deconstructed. Concrete
follies of a folly in a…
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After you were born, we planted a tree
– a sapling pear.
The glint of a spade in the afternoon sun; a signal
for the soil to nourish with tenderness
a ritual renewed by the sound of a new born’s snuffle.
In time, the blossom is as white as your flesh
is pink. Fragile heads flicker in the breeze.
A salutation to Hera.
Then come the fruits, kernels of creation.
Each one a single drop of tear.
Time waits for the flight of an angel’s wing;
as our abundant crop hails his first cry, our blessing
and so you were born
– a slow motion memory of pear parting tree.
The Blessing was originally published in A Slither of Air (2011) Indigo Dreams Publishing
Alison Lock is a poet and author of six publications – three poetry collections, two collections of short stories, and a fantasy novella. Her…
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Seeing the Entomologist
He doesn’t know that a bee, drinking salt
from the pores on his wrist, is called
a Sweat Bee. Nor that a butterfly, fluttering by,
has memories of caterpillar life.
He rolls onto his stomach, shades his eyes,
says, ‘now you’re making it up.’ She laughs, her hair
a spill on the grass, counters,
‘google it if you like.’
He learns how a raft spider can submerge
for an hour, that Hawk moths have ears
on their mouths. She doesn’t know
that the lake remembers
every pebble you throw, and that
if a loved one dies, a body can fill
with grief, the way a water barrel
fills with sky.
Roy Marshall’s first pamphlet Gopagilla (2012) received favourable reviews in the TLS and elsewhere. His first full collection The Sun Bathers was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Award, and a second collection The Great…
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Waiting at Manchester Piccadilly
Platform 3 under Arrivals: the digital board
slides down a blazing candle-wick of all
the stations on the Trans-Pennine line:
Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield.
A grandchild cranes to see Nana through
tall legs, orbited by a crowd; a couple greet
for a first time; a group of lads go for beer
and curry and always, there is later.
Prosecco-fired hens from Stoke blow
into an inflatable man-doll; Nana appears
at the gate, her metal of news bent
Ken Evans – Ken won Battered Moons and was runner-up in Poets & Players in 2016.
‘The Opposite of Defeat’ (Eyewear) featured work shortlisted in Bare Fiction’s pamphlet competition. A collection is due this summer. His poems feature in Envoi, Under the Radar, Lighthouse Literary Journal, The High Window, Obsessed with Pipework, and Interpreter’s House.
Today we are delighted to feature two poems from Jo Haslam’s brand new collection, Fetch, published by Templar Poetry. The book will be launched with a special reading at Keats House on the 29 March. The collection draws on urban and rural landscapes, the world of painting, and experiences of displacement and loss to explore the evolving ties between family, culture and language.
Whatever was lost to the open sky
is replaced by these drops of ghost water,
ice in its dreamstate blown from the mouth
of winter asleep, spreading its network
of furred spikes of moss and blanched fern.
What would it take to freeze each pearl
or fretted grass blade or touch them awake
to a world of rain? We look to the sky
laden with frost and cloud to release
its cold breath as whisper or iron word
What’s the meaning of…
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Our new house from the ale trail train
I spot it.
Know about over-dwellings
and this means we only own it
from the first floor.
Our attic window is open
and I see you wave.
You must be on a stool to do this.
I can’t always be there
to hold you
to warn you
not to reach up
as high as you can.
With a wobble of legs
I watch you grip the rim
and imagine you topple
I hear the impact of the earth.
Know you would not survive this.
I will you back in,
your bruised shins,
your dimpled bum,
your fingernails with an under-dwelling of soil
gathered by mud pie break-times
with new friends I can’t yet name.
I know what the front of our house looks like,
anyone who has travelled on the 184
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The dry air
had turned damp;
the cool stealth
We went to a friends
to collect the muck
the horse looked
on like we were
about to take its foal.
We shovelled fast in the cold;
the benevolence of steam
the comfort of straw.
Both of us pissed in it
to seal the goodness.
We spread it freely
then tarped the rest,
preserving nutrients from
leeching winter rain.
We didn’t yet have that
language of what
you take out
you must put back.
Neil Clarkson is a long-standing member of the Albert Poets, published in magazines including Pennine Platform, The Black Horse and Obsessed by Pipework. He has won prizes in numerous competitions. His debut collection, Build You Again from Wood, was published inFebruary 2017 by Calder Valley Poetry.
It was a Sunday Night and the Hospital was Short Staffed
Hooked to a drip,
she abandons her father’s mizpah ring
into my hand,
falls back onto a pillow
and labours whispers that make no sense.
At midnight, a priest scurries to her bed.
I sit, stand, sit, until a nurse guides me
to a visitor’s room. In darkness,
at two in the morning hot tears slide to my ears,
while an on call surgeon gives her one last chance.
I shiver in the heat of June
and she’s out of it in morphine.
After thirty years of daily offerings,
when I need God, prayers come cold and rote,
pleas remain in my mouth.
A steady voice asks about next of kin,
a pen draws a line across a page
and I taxi home to my daughters.
Sometimes I sit with her possessions:
folded paper with one stitch of…
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