Could I marry these two sharp silences? These yellow balls
that burn in stare and purr beneath
deep where the world is simple.
Are they cat eyes or a brace of griefs fresh
from the hunter’s recreation?
Will they say, I do? Two ochre brides
with their black faces and their undercurrent of woe. Cat
eyes are everything
like newborn infants that have barely tasted the world.
How can we know without tragedy? All the broken
birds and mouse heads merely death’s decoration
like my mother’s trousseau and her years of mending only
to be lost in the stitches
and the thread falling away
her bloody thumb a jewel. She married a ductile grief
its lifeline on her palm
the law of its docile acquiescence
that lifted only to plug the hollow of my despair. The day she died
my wasted roots fell away
and I was born again like an inconsolable thunder.
My mother would have been 75 today.
I have managed to write my first poem of the year thanks to Visual Verse. The poems haven’t been coming for quite a while so hopefully this is a good sign. I’m looking to read some poets new to me this year so I’d be glad to hear recommendations from anyone reading this post. You can read my poem here.
I’m very pleased to have a small bird poem, imaginatively titled ‘Small Bird Poem’, in issue 6 of Zoomorphic Magazine. They’ve held onto it for quite a while and can be found in my collection, A Wound’s Sound (Oneiros Books, 2014).
Many thanks to editors, Susan Richardson and James Roberts.
A word in my poem at this month’s Visual Verse has somehow gone missing so here is the poem in its entirety.
Study in Black Grief-eye dark as the world's mirror fastened in a parcel of bones and velvet. Yesterday the air was winged and the field shuffled its grasses in the wind. Hooves tore up the shadows until the light became a voice. Today everything is a zoomed-in stillness where all life is black-rooted/ black-bloomed as one glossy sorrow.
I am delighted to share two environmental poems by Lesley Quayle. These poems arose from projects she worked on alongside Friends of the Earth and Transport 2000, trying to combat the industrialisation of greenbelt and an AONB. Remember, if you appreciate a poet’s work the best support you can give is to purchase their books. You can buy Lesley’s chapbook, Children of Lesser Gods, from erbacce-press at only £3.99!
They sit behind tables,
reminiscent of school-dinner times,
except the water is Evian
and there’s a finger buffet, ‘No Smoking’ signs.
They are grey and bored,
having to be there, borrowing their bonhomie
from the corporate manual,
cautious of being caught out by easy questions;
the hard ones are pre-empted,
they have designer phrases for them.
They are tired of us before we have even started,
who think fields more important than profit,
their collective fatigue
forewarns of plans already set in concrete,
this haggling’s only a token gesture
from those averse to compromise,
their ceremonies have been held,
they already know the delicate secrets.
The strip lights drone,
conditioned air scrapes our throats
till the skins of our voices are shed
and fade like worn parchment.
From her chapbook, Songs For Lesser Gods (erbacce-press) , first published at Tears in the Fence.
Here are the merely humdrum hills,
with their frowse of mist, small mounds
dissolving on a rim of sky,
wind-stunted trees, picked bare,
behind stone walls.
Here on the city’s edge,
not soaring fells nor wild, untrammelled
scarps of snow – a discourse of bumps,
pulpits of grass, upturned keels
of earth and grit.
Here we walk, sit looking out
across the nesting houses, factories
and roads, while children roll
down littered slopes in the ancestral lea
of those before.
Here, the only undeveloped green
that eyes can see for miles, where shoeless
feet can press and cool, feel soil through toes
freewheel down cinder-tracks with north wind
scouring lungs and skin.
Here are the men with fences,
the inquest on freedom over and done
their lies acquitted in purple prose,
reminding us we have no say –
showing their teeth.
Here are the latecomers
wringing their hands, weeping,
crying cheat and foul – but there’s no amnesty.
Torn poster on a fence, a pennant on a grave –
Lesley Quayle is a poet and folk/blues singer currently living in the wilds of rural Dorset. Her poems have been widely published in magazines such as Tears in the Fence, The Rialto, The North, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Prole, Angle, High Windows etc and she was a winner of the BBC Wildlife Magazine Poet of the Year. She has also written for the Yorkshire Post on rural issues and contributed poems to The Morning Star and Spectator.
I’m very pleased to say that my sales page at erbacce-press has been updated with my new chapbook, Three Colours Grief. Many thanks to editor, Alan Corkish, and to David Wheatley, Marion McCready and Angela Carr for providing the blurbs. If you would like to order a signed copy there will be a slight delay until my author copies are delivered. Postage is free in UK. If you are overseas please contact me.
I have opened up my blog this year to share the work of other poets writing about the subjects I am primarily interested in – nature, the environment and animal rights. I am delighted to share two poems by Canadian poet, E. E. Nobbs. I love both these poems but DOCUMENTARY says so much of importance so beautifully in such few words – perfect. It comes from her prize-winning chapbook, The Invisible Girl.
Like an alpine forest
the tall tree
nobly pines her arms over
our new bungalow, genuine retro (58 years old —
the year’s on the architect’s plans). We planted it
when I was 5. Can’t believe it’s grown
so big! — says
Willard when we
all meet at a closing inspection.
It will have to go — no
choice. Those needles
curling asphalt shingles.
And — woodpecker holes
near the base
of this Queen
internal rot. Yes, I know.
At the end, we see
the blue whale and her calf. Breaching —
their two tails punctuate
the ocean’s clean slate,
their motion like mime
or signing. Perhaps they know
I am delighted to be a sharing a beautiful poem by American poet, John Swain. He brings nature to a new life.
Below the Greenstone
Asleep in the cove
while the moose bellow
and clash antlers
snapping the fir trees.
Rock coast and rocks fall
down the basalt
wet with lake spray,
I follow, falling
through my twisted limbs,
your seldom wing.
Sky of northern lights
in an isolation
I want to swim
into your moving colors
with the trout.
God on the ridge
with the darkness
and the dead, peculiar
in their bliss,
and the gleaming amber
of the island morn.
John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Least Bittern Books published his second collection, Under the Mountain Born, which can be purchased here.
I’m really pleased to be able to share a poem by Scottish poet, Marion McCready, first published in Paris Lit Up Magazine in 2015. Marion’s collection ‘Tree Language’ won the 2013 Melita Hume Prize, awarded by Eyewear Publishing. You can purchase it here.
Rose Hips and Thistles
It’s been a long Indian summer
and the hips are rotting on the beach rose.
I can almost taste their sour skins –
red balls of seeds glistening
like fiery cauldrons in the late September sun;
green tentacles dripping below.
I’m dreaming of exotic gentians,
But it’s the last of the flowering thistles
that stand before me
with their decadent helmets and feathers.
I think of Ellen Willmott
secretly scattering thistle seeds
in her neighbours’ gardens,
spreading pieces of herself – a legacy, to grow
and grow again when her body
is lowered to feed the earth
in a last great act of love.
Marion McCready lives in Argyll. Her poetry collection, Tree Language , was published by Eyewear Publishing (2014). She has a sequence of poems titled ‘The Birth Garden’ in Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Voices, 2015).
I am delighted to have 2 poems published in in issue 2 of ‘The Curly Mind’, a blogzine for avant-garde and/or experimental poetry. It’s a massive issue of 74 poems, so something for everyone. You can read the whole thing here. My thanks to editor, Reuben Woolley, who has put a great deal of work into this.
I am very pleased to share a poem by Argyll-based poet, Tariq Latif, which appears in the current issue of ‘Poetry Scotland’. It reads to me like a fairytale, luminous and full of beautiful imagery. Tariq’s latest pamphlet, ‘Smithereens’, is available from Arc Publications. You can purchase it here.
Once upon a Sunday
for Jennifer and James
Seven calves doze
in the leafy shade.
Light summer drizzle.
Milky sunshine. Smoky
clouds. A white
flaky moon: a parachute;
a jelly fish
swimming the blue;
a child’s white crayon
sketch of a smile.
Wet apple blossoms,
damp tissues, luminous
shadows and ghosts
under the weathered trees.
I have hand picked
some buds of pearl,
some snow white lilies
and these lilac orchids.
I wrap them,
in the blue of sky,
and the glitter of stars
and offer you these gifts
words, worlds and words,
these songs of love-birds.
Tariq Latif was born in a small village outside Lahore in Pakistan. He graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in Physics and worked in Manchester for fifteen years in a family printing business. He has recently moved to the outbacks of Argyll and Bute where he works part-time as a telephone sales person and spends his free time roaming the Scottish Highlands and writing occasional verse. He was the First Prize winner of the Daily Mail National Poetry Competition 2004, and his work has been featured on BBC2 television and BBC Radio 4.