Edited by Kate Garrett
All poems copyright © 2018 individual authors
Selection/issue copyright © 2018 Kate Garrett / Picaroon Poetry
Hello to you, our much-missed rebellious rapscallions.
Yes, I had a lovely maternity leave, thank you for asking.
However, in true rogue fashion, baby Bonnie gave us all a scare within her first
24 hours of life, but she wasn’t about to give up without a fight – in case you
haven’t heard, she has a congenital heart defect, and spent the first week of
her life in hospital. But long story short, the doctors and nurses gave her the
best care possible, and she’s doing very well now!
After all the recent excitement of the mum-of-five life, it’s good to be back even
part-time to the (comparatively) soothing editor life. Thanks to the writers who
didn’t hesitate to send their poems by the hundreds when I returned to the
inbox – here are 32 of those pieces for your reading pleasure.
Oh also: just a quick reminder we have cut back on issues for 2018, so the
next one (lucky #13) will be in September. After that it’s January 2019, and
back to our regular bi-monthly schedule.
Anyway. On with the poetry.
With lots of literary pirate love,
This Month’s Rogue Poems ● May 2018
Nocturne // Rachel Burns 7
The Problem with Us // Marissa Glover 8
Making a Mermaid // Charley Barnes 9
In Good Time // Maggie Sawkins 10
Witch Bottle // Kitty Coles 11
Yellow Girl // Lennart Lundh 12
My Children // Heidi Slettedahl 13
‘By the handful, in tenderness…’ // Simon Perchik 14
Pickle Candy // Adrian Slonaker 15
The Railway Bank // Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon 16
garden party // Bob MacKenzie 17
Rainy Day // Jack Little 18
City // Neil Fulwood 19
Love in Lacroix // Carl Boon 21
A Gap In The Curtains // Sophie Petrie 22
Bourbon and Barbecue, or Coal // Tobi Alfier 23
Florida Man // Bethany W Pope 24
Sometimes a Saint, Mostly a Sinner // Brett Stout 26
The Pirate’s Apology // Thomas Tyrrell 29
Aberration // Jonathan Humble 30
Citrus Advertising Board // Scott Redmond 31
For Zsa Zsa with Love // Abigail Elizabeth Ottley 33
Dancing with Narcissists // Irene Cunningham 34
Touched // Jenny McRobert 35
A Float of Ravens // J.S. Watts 37
Coconut Girl // Sunita Thind 38
Do Not Go to Kilburn // Michelle Diaz 40
No flight plan // Bethany Rivers 41
What Gets Me // Stephen Seabridge 42
Monsal Head Viaduct // Martin Zarrop 43
Different Directions going the same way // Ian Grosz 44
Commuting // Michael McGill 45
Paper burns, flames curl the edges, blackened crisp.
This is where we live, in-between the pages
of the night, space and time
life and death.
The Problem with Us
You slink your way to me like a cat
proud of its catch, dead mouse
dangling from its bloodied jaws.
You drop the poem on my desk (so pleased
you could purr) folding sharp paws
across your chest, waiting
for me to read what you’ve written
and reward you with a good petting.
The geography stretched before me
summons eras and armadas—a new Age
of Discovery—soft slopes but more
with every vista. The greed of the Explorer surges,
fueling the next wave of settlement, the need
to see what lies over each new horizon,
everywhere to plant kisses like flags
of conquistadores, to say,
This, too, is mine.
the conquistador is defeated
in the end. Explorers are expedient.
Their land will be taken, flags trampled
by boots carrying other colors.
Don’t believe the movies,
the happy ending with love that lasts.
In this story, as in every story, kisses
are replaced by blood.
Everyone loses, everything
Making a Mermaid
I warned them they’d misplaced the words together:
Girl, Virgin, Challenge.
But they told me that was the fairy tale,
so I wrote my own.
I pressed my thighs together tight until I became
a mythical being, luring men to their torment.
Sea-bound, I splashed sour brine over them
and their synthetic I love yous.
Their sentiments weren’t wearable. Pebbles
of emotion weighed, I had to discard them.
I wanted something of worth; life had long
taught me that feelings were not.
They’ll tell their friends, the newspapers,
anyone who will listen, of their intimate mishap
with a cold-hearted creature.
But when they look for me,
send search parties with my scent attached,
they will run their fingers through empty waters,
wander along abandoned shores.
I won’t be there; women like me never are.
In Good Time
You will pack your suitcase with the few things that haven’t been
buried or burnt. You’ll put on your overcoat and lock the door. You’ve spent so
many days rehearsing, you think at times you may already have gone. Yet you
know you must still be here for each morning you see a face in the fisheye
mirror which looks remarkably like your own. Your funeral outfit still hangs
unworn in the wardrobe, and the suede boots, that didn’t have holes in the
soles this time last year, are riddled. Just yesterday you noticed fresh coffee
rings on the nest of tables, next to a suit of Tarot, a plate of crumbs.
Gather up your collection of wishbones saving the starling’s for the
benighted one who left before you in a storm. You’ll be in good time.
You’ve left something, I think, behind you here.
I sometimes hear you padding through the house
and feel your breath warming my sleeping face,
your fingers in my hair, raking my skull.
You weaken me. I’m thin again, grey-fleshed.
I keep myself awake in case you come
and, when I fail, I dream the earth cracks open
and buried bones reach out and make me stumble.
I seek a cure. I gather rosemary
on moonless nights and scrutinise the carpets
for rinds of nail, coarse threads of your dark hair,
and marinate my findings in red wine
and add bright needles, shining pins, which were
once words you spoke, which pierced me through and changed,
due to your hexes, into steely objects,
which then fell from my lips if I let them part.
I heat the mixture slowly in a pan,
simmer and simmer till it’s blackberry-dark,
the same shade as the blood dried at my throat
after you broke the flesh with broken glass.
I bottle what I’ve stewed. I bury it.
I say the words that come to me aloud.
They mean the opposite of my intention.
I speak the words you whisper through my mouth.
Just when I learn to count
to seven, there are
only six puppies left.
When our daughters grew up,
moved out, it was
just down the street,
across town, over to the
next county: so close
I can still count them
against my fingers’ tips.
On what part do you
count the dead? Ah,
I know: The heart line.
Thank God, there’s room enough.
I never got to teach my children anything.
A mass of cells that multiplied
And then did not
No long division
No make believe
Except those two weeks, waiting.
Each time was harder
And every time I knew.
By the handful, in tenderness
yet your shadow erupts
and by nightfall holds on
one shoulder then the other
spun as if this dirt would find
the wind it came here for
circle up and cover this place
with your finger touching
the grave skies grow into
and never let go –a parting gesture
collecting darkness with another
helps you leave the way the dead
fill their arms with the Earth
carried around as morning and higher
in stones they know by heart.
On the downtown stretch of St. Joseph’s Road
four blocks away from the grain elevators
and two from the commuter rail station,
Ballard’s Candies filled a gap between
the pet shop with the monkey that tore a hole
in my maroon winter cap
and the comic book store where my brother
salivated over issues of GI Joe.
Ballard’s is where I would sip
Green River floats and had my first scoop
of bubble gum ice cream before
purchasing candy cigarettes to feel grown-up.
One day when I was about ten
I spied one box of Pickle Candy between the
root beer drops and the Life Savers by the
antique cash register.
I despised dill and walked away,
but I noticed again,
a month later when Mom took me for a treat after
a loathsome school physical that
the root beer drops and the Life Savers were gone,
but the Pickle Candy hadn’t persuaded anyone to buy it.
Silently sympathizing with the green and white case
with the retro font,
I knew that I too had been last picked
for dodgeball, kickball, volleyball,
baseball, and football.
Three months later, on my birthday, I went to Ballard’s for
a chocolate malted and spotted the Pickle Candy
still in its spot, pathetically gathering dust.
Crushed by a crest of compassion
I’d never felt before,
I sacrificed my allowance,
rescued the Pickle Candy
and, once on the pavement lined with crackly maple leaves,
I realized that my charitable cause
had expired two years before.
Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon
The Railway Bank
Climb between the houses,
up don’t go there bank,
into no-man’s land.
So many dangers,
nettles being the least,
strangers in raincoats the worst,
hurtling trains, in between.
A dreamy child,
I saw butterflies and beetles
in my don’t go there garden,
sun-spun diamond cobwebs –
and cuckoo spit and dewdrops
glitter-poised to fall
and drench my ankle socks.
Each summer morning, I emerged
out of the shadows to be warmed through,
free of the lonely chill of home.
at first there were no strawberries
only man and woman naked and God
wrapped in regal strawberry robes
the man on the grass watching
God touch her wrist seductively
strawberries are important here
held and hugged and lain upon
surrogates for love’s embrace
sex toys and hats and statues
metaphor among the naked mass
everywhere in the park the naked
abandon decorum with lust for sex
games played without love or joy
while in the pool the naked women
gasp as men and beasts circle round
where the city burns in darkness
no strawberries or naked passion
suffer souls to pain without end
where on every corner danger lurks
and the garden party is no delight
[after the triptych painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch]
Tourists equate rainy days with ‘lost days’,
sun worshippers who pray in shorts
who’ve saved for months to be here.
I bathe in paperwork, strut home sweaty
full of judgement. In rainfall my knees creak
under the old aches of from here/ born elsewhere.
Drizzle on the hot pavement smells of stale dog piss.
Each lost breath of beerless path-beating
is a an unhappy pilgrimage, dreaming of being
from there, but here – inside, and sheltered.
The walk-in clinic at seven in the morning,
its postage-stamp car park half full already
and an acre of wasteland unused behind it
spiked with nettles and weeds and syringes.
A gym and a cob shop one side of the street,
a chain hotel out of place on the other -
close to the station but shag all use
in terms of parking or the city centre.
A mini-cab office nestling for space
alongside a pub unchanged for decades
and a chip shop without a food hygiene rating.
A symmetry of sorts if it’s ten to midnight.
Symmetry, too, in these tower blocks
squared off against multi-storey car parks,
scraps of grass in the spaces between them
and a precinct of shops with boarded up fronts.
The city is the bus depot, the sharp tang of fuel.
The city is the smashed glass of the bus stop.
The city is the bin lorry blocking rush hour streets.
The city is the council van on double-yellows.
The city is a residents-only zone.
The city is an out-of-order parking meter.
The city is a traffic warden in high-vis tabard.
The city is a youth giving him the wanker sign.
“... a poet unknown by the city he sings to ...”
- Fina Garcia-Marruz (trans. Katherine M. Hedeen)
The city is the taxi rank an hour before closing time.
The city is the ambulance an hour after.
The city is a gunshot or a car backfiring,
the police helicopter steadily circling.
You leave the last few cubic millilitres
and walk a slow route from pub to taxi rank
trying to broker a deal
with your own digestive system:
you’ve learned your lesson, you left
your drink unfinished so, please, there’s no need
for any unpleasantness. You stumble,
fold at the gut and the gutter is there to receive.
The city is all of your hangovers compounded,
all of your fights in a single one-inch punch,
every sickie you’ve thrown, every lie
you were caught in. It doesn’t know your name.
Love in Lacroix
For a month she mispronounced her name,
lied about flowers and her dislike
of lavender soap. Her skin one Friday
shivered on the bus at Stevens Point,
trembled and touched the bones of her.
When they met at the Blue Coin Cafe,
each wept. She said here the snow deletes
the sky. She said your eyes are darker
than I’d guessed. After an hour they began
to laugh and clutch, exchanging secrets
while the men spoke of bowling
and the Packers, Tupperware parties,
the haul to Oshkosh. In the Red Spire Motel
the air was turbulent, changing. The clothes
fell, the usual hesitation, the bedspread
not theirs and the one that would be,
later. The first kiss mercy, the second
a rage against the dying corn, the land,
the unbelievable of even being there.
She said I’m happy now. She said I’m not
leaving until the ground opens harshly.
Then a purple sprawl, a green becoming,
a breakfast neither felt the need to touch.
This is better, she said. This is right,
she said, as the black men below
made the snow go away. It appeared to be
a thousand plows, but it was only one.
A Gap in the Curtains
Smear me with well planted kisses,
fall back onto the mounds of sheets,
our borrowed limbs flung out at rest
across the pillow.
The nightly stains, dream slug trails,
slither from our uncurled lips
while we breathe in the must and
The internal clinking of our
rhythms match and bleed and blend,
while I turn and wriggle down into
the empty indent.
That weighted groove you left for me,
unwashed marks and bare shadows,
a soft cast I do not fit.
I sleep with my mouth closed tight,
my hands clawed under the pillow,
ignoring the call of whistling birds,
the lances of dust
dancing between the curtains,
a split throat of morning.
I clutch the sheets, our warm bed divided
with a thin line of light.
Bourbon and Barbecue, or Coal
Three girls light Marlboro reds
and shoot vodka at the bar,
six fake breasts and nine fake ID’s
between them. Danny sits at his table
messy with peanut shells
and ashtray trash, wonders
when he wakes tomorrow, what the weather
will be, which woman will be buried under his covers,
ass to stomach, the light snore of the pickup-loved
and hungover, while he waits for what’s for breakfast
and can I borrow your toothbrush.
When it’s cold, outside is a black and white
photograph, frigid breath, ancient scent of coal,
fractured smoke off the river winding lazily
toward collars not thick enough, and unprepared.
When it’s hot, the air is a bee-sting of fury,
the sound of trains, smell of bourbon and barbecue.
Everyone’s kids are your kids—they ride their bikes
like maniacs, you keep one hand on their arms,
one on the arm of your new-found woman,
try to remember her name, pray you can introduce
her to the church ladies and she won’t say somethin’
heinous, turn around and yell at her
to get off Roscoe’s skateboard!
Jeez, almost ain’t worth it. You swear to pick another bar,
find yourself a good woman, not a walking wine stain,
go see if Katie Lee’s cornbread is done,
see if her husband is still done gone…that’s what the heat
brings out, he’ll take a tank top and sunburn over icy cold
almost every time.
Bethany W Pope
My Uncle has a bitter laugh: a harsh,
barking cough, punctuated by his finger
flicking a long trail of ash from the tip
of his ever-burning cigarette.
The Rowe men all die with a full scalp.
The Rowe men are all bone and lean muscle;
they’re deceptively strong. Rowe men have a knack
for mechanical things; engines, handguns.
They read novels with a literary bent,
watch Fox News, South Park, and they’ll all vote
Republican to the very last.
They never sing out when the pain is on them.
My Uncle’s younger brother got grease
into a gash a piston gouged into
the meat of his leg and contracted a fleshhungry
He didn’t tell his wife about it
until it spread enough to almost
warrant amputation. My uncle is good
at keeping secrets. He never tattled
on his grandfather. He never said
what they did in the dark. My Uncle
doesn’t eat, much. He drinks whiskey for breakfast.
Sometimes, he’ll whip a raw egg into it.
My Uncle’s father died when my Uncle
was fifteen. He did it on purpose.
My Uncle never talks about it.
My grandfather never talked about
his father — what they did in the dark.
My Uncle tried meth, for a while. It helped
drown the dark into quiet, but it was
expensive. My Uncle broke into his
little brother’s house, one night, shattering
the picture window above my cousin’s
bed (she was sleeping in it) and stole
the guns his father ‘liberated’
from that beach in Japan. My Uncle
reappears at intervals. My aunt
epeatedly checks him into rehab,
the cheap kind, where they don’t talk much,
and he leaves, promising to do better.
Sometimes, I see him at Christmas. He’s thinner
each year, and his hair is finer, increasingly
white. When my grandma died, he came home
for the funeral. The suit he wore
was made for a boy. It fit him around
his shoulders and waist, but it only
covered half his legs and half his arms.
His limbs stuck out, hairy, like a spider’s.
I gave him a hug and felt the bones
in his back as he leaked hard tears onto
my chest. Then his long hand, briefly, cupped
my right breast. My Uncle is a funny
man, even now that he is dying.
Remembering the last job he had,
working the night shift at a gas station,
he says, ‘At least I don't have to sleep
in the freezer any more.’ He never
slept there. He had a cot, out in storage.
They paid him in Jim Beam and let him out
for church on alternate Sundays.
Every couple of hours, my uncle grows
restless. He sneaks out of the ward and smokes
with the janitors. They like him
because he’s willing to share. Somehow,
his cigarettes are always good. His skin’s gone
all yellow and cracked, and his gunslinger
eyes are clouded and sunken. He’s fifty;
looks eighty, and he’s on his way out.
Sometimes a Saint, Mostly a Sinner
and the eventual
death from above,
now crawl inside
cardboard Jesus box
watch it fucking
under pressure from
David Bowie and acid rain
gather dust and debris
the derelict hands of
winos and Bigfoot
on a rented lonely
hotel room wall
decaying suburban neighborhoods
and foreclosed strip malls
with a dream and a utopian ideal
spreading and infiltrating the NSA
and the PTA
just like them
moths under seditious
pools of concrete toxins
transmission fluid and Mexican
children at play
the dryer is broken
the landlord is fixed
sink the dull razor
pull up a plush
semi-leather office chair
sell me another lie and
Band-Aids and bloody gauze pads
your veins and high definition
and stare at a distance
nothing will be
just like everyone else
you are all
it will all
be over soon,
now crawl inside
cardboard Jesus box
watch it goddamn crumble.
The Pirate’s Apology
“They were poor Rogues, they said, and so hang’d, while others, no less guilty
in another Way, escaped.” —The General History of the Pirates, Daniel Defoe.
You gentlemen who form my jury,
These final words let no man gag.
I fought and drank with Captain Roberts
And sailed beneath the pirate flag.
My bread was spoil, my meat was plunder;
I rue it, but it comes no shock
To find myself a felon sentenced
To swing at Execution Dock.
I laughed to scorn the laws of nations
And though I fought fair and lived free
I did things that I quake to think on,
Waded in blood above the knee,
And now, a man condemned, I stand here
A flaming beacon on a rock
Warning the mariners to windward,
Steer clear of Execution Dock.
For it’s the same the whole world over,
The poor rogues hang, the rich rogues thrive.
While three tides toss my chained cadaver
Think of the monsters left alive.
The slavers, gorged with human cargo,
The managers of South-Sea stock,
How comes it they will never join me
To swing at Execution Dock?
Jurors, I go to death as blithely
As good King Charles went to the block.
Let no-one jeer me on my journey
To swing at Execution Dock.
First thing in the morning, watch the mirror yawning,
just another Monday when it hits you without warning.
Lost your medication, feel the irritation,
quickly followed by a burst of weird exaltation.
Quite enjoy a chinwag, talking to a spongebag,
interrupted by the coffee pushing back the jetlag.
Called the boss a fishface, must have been a nutcase,
lose your mind in increments while running in the rat race.
Drowning in the bearpit, looking like a nitwit,
watch out for the killer viral fungus in the armpit.
Have a right good chortle, walking through the portal,
be a mixed up manic panic borderline immortal.
Listen for a raindrop, waiting by the bin slop,
wondering just who you are and why you're at a bus stop.
Feeling cold and left out, swimming in your own doubt,
glaring round and looking for a fight with any young lout.
Fed up with the mucus, wade around in fucus,
staring at the night sky looking hard for Ophiuchus.
Used to be a boy scout, give the moon a good shout,
wave goodbye to sanity while searching for the way out ...
Citrus Advertising Board
As the newest member,
Of the British Citrus Advertising Board
I would like to pitch a few new ideas.
A child is biting into a piece of chocolate,
When they make a face like *screws up face*
It is then revealed to be a piece of lemon
Painted to look like chocolate.
A man has a large open wound on his leg.
His friend offers to get him some antiseptic cream,
He puts on the cream,
And makes a face like *screws up face*
It is then revealed to be lemon juice.
A man is attempting to use eyedrops,
But instead of eyedrops, out comes
Just this whole lemon
He makes a face like *screws up face*
It is then revealed to be a lemon.
A woman is biting into a lemon,
She makes a face like *confused face*.
It is revealed to instead be a small Mediterranean island.
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
For Zsa Zsa with Love
A good time girl, my grandma said.
All diamond rings and fizzy gin.
My nan would call a spade a spade
and wasn’t taken in.
No better than she ought, she said.
No knickers underneath that fur.
But on our screen in black and white
you sashayed, swished and purred.
Aged ten I saw you fill a stage
and caught my breath to watch you glow.
I dreamed one day I’d file my nails
and pout my painted lips just so.
And smouldering I’d lift my chin
and make my cocktail clink.
Young men would laugh at all my jokes
while Daddy held my mink.
So Zsa Zsa here’s a toast to you.
Sleep well and thanks a bunch.
Although I never got that mink
my sashay packs a mighty punch.
Dancing with Narcissists
These men would sweep, be precise;
their considered mechanics performing
building waves of oohs and aahs
attracting envy, spooling dreams.
Eyes to charm, spellbind witnesses,
always busy with machinations
spinning webs with artful casts
managing a way through the world.
My narcissist is delving inwards,
down rabbit holes because he knows
best, and I’m the whipping girl
who remains his mother...in the dock.
Our dance is jittery: not jitter-bug
or quick-step – more Punk-like leaping
reducing to Zombie-walking off
and Death-march out of time.
the unravelling path frays
a spindling yarn
swirling violet and green,
in rain pools like dreams
that tinge a restless night.
Mud sucks at slow boots,
pushing up brambles
like burnt-out city slums.
Travel sick with the inward journey,
I look up,
and they are there,
where they have always been,
shocks of thick green hair
in the brown baldness of winter;
huddled in on each other as if for warmth.
Soft-veined old arms of time,
beckon me to their counsel.
I touch the ancient,
the slow seeping memory of pagan
the warp and weft
of tangled roots;
that sing of the time when earth
once lost its battle with sky.
Time stutters and stalls,
as I pad-out thoughts
in small steps,
author of my own mystery play
where the broken mind is
A Float of Ravens
(in response to having read half-way through Anne Carson’s Float)
It is like eating ravens
the egg and the binding
except I would never.
Rather a repetition
of ravens cloudy
over the wide-open skies
Words floating like ravens
in a fierce wind
in the same drawn out wing-beat.
It could be just
as Proust says, except
I can’t remember what’s lost
or those words
the feeling of floating
boundless and unwrapped
through the wide-open skies
drifting above Kneesworth.
Where I once read ravens
fighting like words
in a fierce wind
I can no longer remember
though time repeats like Proust
or writers in search
of the lost remembrance
of Proust and maybe
misplaced words floating
wrapless and unbounded
in a wide-open sky
white and yellow
like a pale fried egg
like ravens who would-be
Brown on the outside.
White on the inside.
Said the Coconut Girl.
Jewelled doll in a salwar kameez
Gemstone bindiya targeted on the forehead.
Said the Coconut Girl.
All cinnamon legs in a profusion of glittered mini skirts.
Gin chaser, Whiskey Sour, chippy butty.
Fondled by the ‘Gaura’ boyfriend.
Said the Coconut Girl.
Spangled head scarf gagging her.
‘You are so dark, lah,’ ‘You must loose weight lah,’
‘Tusee Karli’ ‘Tu see Muthi’
‘Did you see her niece? She got into Medicine.’
Chirps from the harpies, the banshees...the aunti jee, the mummy jee…
The Dadima, the Nanima…
Said the Coconut Girl.
Bejewelled Lengai, crystallized, hot pink and burnt gold.
Frenzied diamonds adorn her hair.
The perfect bride.
Said the Coconut Girl.
Mac cosmetic façade, mangled rhinestone embellished hot pants,
Holographic, stiletto boots…
Her dad saw her with that white guy.
Mute was the Coconut Girl.
Manacled to her Chura.
Her bedazzled bangles.
Terraformed to her Tika.
Feasting on a banquet of curries.
A Panjabi paradox was our sad little Coconut Girl.
*Sarsee Akal! (‘Hello’ Punjabi)
salwar kameez (Indian Suit)
Kiddha! (‘How are you?’ Panjabi)
Meera Tika. (‘I am good,’ in Panjabi)
Meera Naam (‘My name is...’ is Panjabi)
‘Nahin! Nahin!,’ (‘No, No,’ in Panjabi’)
Tika (Jewelled head piece-Indian)
Do Not Go to Kilburn
this is the day you gave birth to me.
Let’s write a new version.
Let the caesarean scalpel slip,
let me be miscarried all over the bathroom floor,
shoo the jiggly white racers
Do not drink in that Irish bar,
do not meet vacuous
sperm donor father.
have the life that would have saved you,
find the letters from Geoff Broomhead
Grandma hid from you.
Let me stay on my cloud.
No flight plan
It should’ve been a sunny Sunday in summer
but the clouds hung in her deeply
She was 29, the rug of marriage
swept up from under her feet
Her adrenaline levels had woken her
too early again, that feeling that a
bomb may explode at some point during
the day, in the most innocuous
of places, but the day dawned
insultingly ordinary and the empty
hours paved in front of her like
an endless motorway of no-cars
She’s a bird who’s never known flight,
still sitting in its cage with the door open
What Gets Me
Is that half the world away
there are those who have
never seen the rain fall like this,
here, on this hill, down the leaves
of these trees. That here, before
us, some scaly, tailless creature
stomped its way through growth
that became this woodland. That
it died, and its bones crushed to
oil, to coal, and men found it,
held its black mass in their hands
as if it was gold. That those
men dug further, deeper, into
this mud and felt the cascade
of falling soil. That those men lay,
in the sluice of this mine, drowning.
Monsal Head Viaduct
A grey-haired critic contemplates the view.
It’s just a bridge, she states, and pulls that face,
that mummy mask that always knows it all.
Her son releases breath into the wind.
‘Sometime’, he says, ‘my ashes will drift down,
speck by speck into the River Wye’.
Don’t talk like that, she scolds,
it’s just a bridge.
Different directions going the same way
We watch the night sky
looking out for shooting stars.
‘To the north’, I say.
‘That’s where they will be.’ But
her gaze is over to the east.
I take a sip of my wine;
sharp and syrup sweet, I shudder
as it slides down my throat.
‘Is that the North Star?’
she asks, still looking east.
The ghost of the moon lurks
behind the clouds, and
I can just see the outline of her face,
her profile, as that first time,
that first long look
in the car as she took me home,
turning twice the wrong way.
of you often
but the trains now
are colder and less
so I travel
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