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

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Four poems in Sleet Magazine

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The summer 2018 issue of Sleet Magazine is now live, and I’m honoured to have four of my poems appearing there. You can check out “Airport Run”, “Coming Back”, “Harry” and “Caprice” by following this here link.

I’m grateful to Susan Solomon and the rest of the editorial team at Sleet for finding a space for my work in this very fine issue.

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

In the moment

In the moment

In the moment

The kids are in love, and so sweetly
you can see it melting out of them,
see gravity getting smashed into
a million pieces beneath their feet
as they bounce along, occasionally
touching down because they can.

In their free hands, the ones not
holding the other’s, they clutch balloons
painted in colours we can no longer see,
inflated with their restless thoughts of
an unmapped future, raw materials
yet to be processed into anxieties.

Don’t you remember the first days of our
being? The damage we caused to gravity?
Our balloons? How the brilliant shock
of it interrupted time itself, and made
the future evaporate, while we failed to
notice ourselves not breathing properly?

 

first published in Tales from the Forest, Issue 5, 2017

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.

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

Poem published at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily

My poem “Nelly” has been posted today at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.

It’s a poem about my Grandmother – my Nan – her funeral, and my imagining her as a young woman leaving the place where she was born and grew up to start a new life. If you’ve visited my “About” page, you’ll already be acquainted with her and with the origins of the title of this blog.

My thanks go out to Autumn Sky Poetry Daily editor, Christine Klocek-Lim, for choosing to publish the poem.