Christopher became a chief constable
You once went to his house and
drank milk from plastic beakers.
His mother gave you one biscuit,
and kept the small house tidy,
and you never saw his father,
although you knew he had one.
What you didn’t know then was
just how handsome he would be,
a classical kind of beauty, like an
English actor from the nineteen-fifties,
always smouldering from a uniform;
dashing, yet incapable of empathy.
But you know it now. You see,
in your memory, his elegant nose
and immaculate skin the colour
of bones, the way his brown eyes
judged the world as if they were grey,
made of impossibly precious metals.
None of you noticed. You were all
too pre-occupied with teasing, and
something close to but not quite bullying,
with his bookishness – too dismissive
of the awkwardness in his limbs
to see where they were taking him.
first published in Clear Poetry, 2017
I’m very pleased to have three of my poems featuring at Soft Cartel just now (and I particularly like this image they’ve used to accompany them. How soon can I move to Pie Town?). You can find “Exit strategy”, “Your second head” and “Nothing much at all” here.
My thanks to Toom Bucksaw, editor at SC, for giving these poems a home.
Not only is The Pangolin Review named after my favourite creature I’ve never seen, it’s editor Amit Parmessur has been kind enough to publish one of my poems in the latest issue.
You can find “An old friend” by clicking here and scrolling down about two-thirds of the way, though you’re very likely to get distracted as you go. My thanks to Amit for including my poem.
As well as publishing my poem “Little Grey Cloud” earlier this year, The Magnolia Review was also kind enough to ask me a few questions as part of their series of contributor interviews.
Suzanna Anderson, editor of TMR, has now posted the interview, which you can read by following the link from the original post below. I’m really grateful to Suzanna for giving me the opportunity to share a little of my experience as a writer.
Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.? Although it sounds fun to have an office, shack or cave set up deliberately to facilitate writing, I don’t have one. So I write wherever I am, whenever I can. Which can be inconvenient. What kind of materials do you use? Do […]
M. Stone is one of the most talented poets I’ve had the good fortune to discover since I started using WordPress, and she currently has a new micro-chapbook out – “Evolving God” – which is a truly remarkable read. Highly recommended. Follow the links from the original post below to get hold of a copy.
My micro-chapbook Evolving God is now available at Ghost City Press! Many thanks to Editor Kevin Bertolero and the Ghost City Press team for believing in this little book and including it in the 2018 summer series.
If horses – as per the title of Alice Walker’s poetry collection – make a landscape look more beautiful, then perhaps islands do the same for seascapes. Or mountains do. Or islands with mountains. You get the idea, I hope.
Sifting and resifting through the photographs I took back in May when visiting RSPB Campfield Marsh and the Solway Estuary, I’m struck by two things.
The first is how many of the images are looking outwards from the land towards the estuary, with its rivers emptying out into the Irish Sea. And so – inevitably – across to the coast of Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. And how few were taken facing back towards the land. Because the tide is out, the sea itself, its water, is largely absent, invisible, but nonetheless I find myself looking for it.
This is reflected in my memories of the day. I remember spending far more of it gazing out at and thinking about the sea. I’d travelled for almost two hours across land to get to the coast, so maybe it’s inevitable to focus on what you’ve been heading towards, rather than what you’ve passed through. It makes me wonder whether the experience of arriving somewhere over water leads the traveller to turn their back instinctively on that which has been crossed, and instead focus landwards? (I will make a mental note next time I arrive at the sea to check back and look behind me more carefully).
The second thing to strike me is the effect that the horizon can have on the watcher looking out to sea. Looming faintly on the skyline in most of the images is Criffel; neither the tallest by any means, nor the shapeliest of Scotland’s mountains, it still draws the eye.
This is not to suggest at all that without the mountain there, there’s be no point looking out to sea. But it does make me realise how easy it can be to observe something without adequately considering the frame, the context, the accompaniment that completes the image. And how sometimes we can – even when we think we’re paying attention – need a second look to fully appreciate what is going on.
I thought I was doing them properly, the way
you’re supposed to, crayoning out raw shapes
that were, if not quite exactly lollipops, then
certainly something lickable, perhaps clouds
of candy floss wound onto sticks, or ice cream.
I filled them in with a pistachio green to avoid
any ambiguity, ticking in a circle of birds above,
a butterfly the size of a moose. A sun, smiling.
Those, she told me would lose their leaves
in the autumn, spend fingerbone winters naked
and heartless. She didn’t say why. I didn’t ask.
Hers were drilled brigades of triangles, isosceles,
getting smaller towards the top of the page
to suggest distance, within which you could
see each and every Starbucks needle, every
chocolate-coloured cone a dangling reproach.
first published in Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine Anthology, 2017
Up at Nancy’s
You ruminate – as the wheels spin on a mossier stretch
of the cobbles – on how they’d never build a road like this
these days, all the way up the hill to where field and moor
merge indifferently into one another, where the improved
becomes the unimproved. They wouldn’t even build a house.
She’ll be long dead by now, of course, so there’ll be no more
of those illicit cans of sweet stout skulking in the refrigerator,
rubbing shoulders with the UHT milk cartons; no more
coal-black surprises coiled in the plastic commode for you
to deal with. No more memories of George, ‘God rest his soul’.
She’ll have stopped wondering what might lurk about the upstairs,
where she last went over a decade ago, when her knees
were still behaving; stopped smiling in that borrowed way
of hers, with those flawless dentures, that surely belonged in
someone else’s mouth. They never mirrored the eyes.
‘This property would benefit from substantial modernisation’
bleats the brochure from the auctioneers. The images show only
the views across the dale on a high pressure, July afternoon,
and the centuries-old defiance of the stonework. Not the interior.
No mention of the ghosts you know you’d be sharing it with.
first published in The Interpreter’s House, issue 66, 2017