Three poems at Across The Margin

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I’m delighted to have had three of my poems published in the online magazine, Across The Margin. You can read “Thoughts from an early morning train”, “Afternoon, hillside above town” and “Bookmarked” by clicking here.

I’m really grateful to ATM’s poetry editor, Richard Roundy, for choosing my poems.

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Going Home

Going Home

Going Home

Falling asleep on our journey back tonight,
you didn’t see how the sky was starred with a thousand geese,
spearing off in confused fragments to all directions;
some the usual south, others west, others even north-west.

Your eyelids flickered at the horizon instead, painting yourself a brief dream,
far away from the violent uncertainty of these last three days,
the astonished air still bruised with unspent cloud, above the washed earth,
the rivers of angry traffic still fighting their way home.

 

First published in Allegro Poetry Magazine, issue 13, 2017

Leningrad, 1990

Leningrad


Leningrad, 1990

 
Even with only seven mutually-intelligible phrases,

we partied on the overnight express north like it was

everybody’s birthday, making a loaf out of crumbs.

Come morning, the train lurched in, to a metropolis with

two heads, neither of them facing in the right direction.

 

Then it rained three days, in bands of withering judgment,

from a sky heavy with itself and a marathon of history.

Ageing boulevards, redundant with missing teeth, became

tributaries. Palaces gleamed, and naked-headed citizens

in zip-up jackets, streamed along Nevsky Prospect wearing

 

identical tennis shoes, unaware that another revolution

was rearing like a rodeo bull, in a future already

out of touch with the present. They would soon be

renaming the city again. Back at our hotel, the lights

flickered. They warned us against drinking the water.

 

 

first published in Clear Poetry, 2017

Kearvaig – National Poetry Day 2017

Kearvaig

It’s National Poetry Day in the UK, so it would be rude not to mark the occasion somehow! After all, I’ve been writing poetry ever since I could write (just about). And I’m still struggling to move on…

This is a reposting of the first ever post I made here nearly eighteen months back. The poem was written many years ago, and belongs to a time when I first began submitting to magazines seeking publication. It didn’t last very long! And it was followed by a much lengthier hiatus.

The theme of this year’s National Poetry Day is “Freedom”. I’m not sure if this is necessarily a poem about freedom, but it’s certainly written about a time and a place where I felt a genuine sense of peace.

Whatever you’ve been doing to mark the day, I hope it’s been a great one.

Kearvaig

Tonight the sun just bluntly refuses to set,

yet I can squeeze no more minutes from the moment,

no more dry wood from the crashed crates scattered

between the docile rocks. It’s wet again.

I’m missing nothing, no-one.

 

I was sure that I saw whales in the bay,

slowly taking in the cliffs that look like

a church in resolute light.

I could be mistaken. They say that

tankers often come this way.

The deeper, wider ocean isn’t so far,

and I will still be here tomorrow.

 

First published in Poetry Nottingham 1997

Pulmonaria

Pulmonaria


Pulmonaria

 

That modest shrub has come up again in the garden,

over in a damp corner by the shed. It’s the one with

the toadskin leaves shaped like tiny maps of Florida,

somewhere he’s pretty sure they never went to.

He remembers it now, but not how it got there, the shrub

that is; its name he thinks he probably never knew.

It must’ve been something his wife planted, years ago,

before the business with her knees, before those shadows

appeared that the doctor had to point out to him twice,

using the tip of his hornet-striped pencil, though she

saw them immediately, recognising them like old friends

she was meeting from a train just pulled into a station

on a warm afternoon, whose faces hadn’t changed a bit.

 

 

first published in Whale Road Review, issue 6, spring 2017

Why we are not birds yet

Why we are not birds yet

Why we are not birds yet

It is not solely the weight of our bones,
and the seriousness of the marrow crowding
their cavities, leaving no room for air.

Nor is it the sorry failure of our shoulders,
too pre-occupied with the burdens of
reason, guilt and all those things we’d

prefer not to know, to ever operate wings.
We may grow flight feathers, and knit them with
wax strong enough for orbiting the sun, because

we are amazing, after all, especially to ourselves,
yet still we cannot circulate comfortably in
three dimensions, even through the fine skin

of our atmosphere. Our attempts to do so will
ultimately be the death of us. The only choice
we have, if any, is how quickly to fall.

 

first published in Rat’s Ass Review, Fall-Winter 2016 Issue

Launch of Southlight 22 at the Wigtown Book Festival

Issue 22 of Southlight Magazine will be launched this coming Saturday, 23rd September, at the Wigtown Book Festival, a 10-day literary celebration in Scotland’s National Book Town.

This issue includes four of my poems: Planting cyclamen; Hinterland; Flood and Arran Victory. My thanks go to Southlight’s editorial team of John Burns, Vivien Jones and Angus Macmillan for choosing my poems. Best wishes for a successful launch – wish I could be there!

“Getting on” published at After the Pause

After the PauseThe Fall 2017 issue of After the Pause is now live, and features one of my poems, “Getting on”. You’ll have to scroll through to page uu (otherwise known as 47 – you’ll understand when you get there!) to find it, although there’s plenty of great poetry, flash fiction and artwork to grab your interest both on the way and beyond.

My thanks go out to After the Pause editor Michael Prihoda for choosing to include the poem.