Flood #2

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I came home one evening recently to discover that one of the pipes in my bathroom had ruptured, causing hot water to come raining through the ceiling and into the living room.

The consequences were not good. Sofa, carpets, desk – all pretty much soaked and ruined. So it goes.

More poignant is that taking the full impact of the deluge was my modest library of poetry books – including signed collections by Billy Collins and Ben Banyard – and gratis copies of all the print publications that have been generous enough to include my poems over the last few years.

So it goes.

I’m not looking for sympathy. This is first world stuff, and I have insurance (I forgot to ask my insurers whether they could fly Mr Collins over to sign another copy, now I think about it). And it’s kind of funny, really. I’m a great believer that there’s poetry in everything if you bother to look for it, so I’m hopeful that this episode will have sown the seed for something creative further down the line. Maybe it will do the same and provide a prompt for someone reading this? That would please me.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to repost a poem I put on here a few months back. It’s about a completely different type of flood, admittedly, but perhaps with a little imagination (and heat. And books) you’ll get there?!

 

Flood

 

We did not see the swollen river

overtop its banks, failed by the

modest bow of its channel, its

traffic doubled by the bludgeon

of three consecutive moonrises

under rain, waters earth-brown.

 

Instead, we passed a day later,

taken by the bleached streamers

of torn-up grass, stretched like

comet-tails from the lowest boughs

of thornbushes, calm swirls of sand

making fish-loops across our path.

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House of two trees

House

 

House of two trees

 

I see it every day through a car window.

It ghosts alongside like a stalled memory,

age uncertain, between drawn curtains

of teenaged birch, once autumn’s first gale

has shaved away their weak, buttery leaves.

Only its gable ends remain, a pair of

house-shaped symbols of wet, mossy stone,

linked by a low skirt of rubble, no sign of

a doorway or chimney-breast from this distance.

In each of what would’ve been its two rooms,

opportunist sycamores reach up beyond

the level of the eaves, and must form

a roof of sorts in full, late-summer leafspread,

but now join the hunched cluster of skeletons.

Sometimes there are rooks, crows, neither.

I return eventually to our home, twelve years young,

and backgrounded by those half-dozen acres

of pine, poplar, oak – their own sycamores too,

whose diaspora of seeds choke our garden

and gutters with saplings every spring.

And I can’t help wondering about time, the Earth,

the waiting game they’re playing with us,

the winning hands they’re inevitably holding.

 

first published in Liminality, issue 11, 2017

Up at Nancy’s

Nancy's

 

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

The Interpreter’s House

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This week I received a copy of issue 66 of The Interpreter’s House magazine, which – as well as being a lovely thing – contains a poem of mine entitled “Up at Nancy’s”.

It’s amazing to be in the company of so many stellar poets, and I’m very grateful to the editorial team of TIH for choosing to include my poem. Subscriptions to the magazine – as well as copies of individual issues – can be purchased here.

Damage options

DO

Damage options

 

Sometimes there is no sign of a struggle.
Perhaps they are brought to the house already dead,
molested a little, and then abandoned.
They seem more forlorn this way, inert and muted,
like they simply fell from the sky and managed
to land underneath this particular chair in the kitchen,
or in the middle of apparently random spaces.

It’s different when they’ve put up a fight, however
futile; the scattering of fragments will spread
to several rooms. The heavier feathers
hang like jetsam, beached and unmoving,
while the down, with its filigree whisperings,
takes flight whenever a door opens, almost lighter
than the air it would’ve been used to capture.

 

first published in Mad Swirl, 2016