Three poems up at Stickman Review

Anthony Brown, editor of Stickman Review, has been kind enough to include three of my poems – “Driving around town, 2 a.m.”, “Eddie’s” and “In which you are still leaving” – in Volume 17, Number 1, which has just been released online.

Big thanks to Anthony for finding space for these three amongst some very fine poems indeed. I’d particularly recommend checking out David Lohrey’s “Saturday, the 19th or the 20th”.

 

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Errands

Errands

 

Errands

 

When things were good and I still believed in us,

even the mundane obligations sang like whales,

and taking the wiry road down the hamstrings

of the island to its full-stop, on those bastard mornings,

a single cassette on the stereo to numb the losses,

always made unquestioned sense. Sometimes in

light hushed with pearls, sometimes with the blade

of the wind knifing clear to the marrow, I’d time each

arrival against the tide, sifting it for treasure, perform

the errands, light the fires. Then return to you, the road

now huddled into a spool of knees and elbows, the

mountain a tight wedge tripping over its own steps before

falling like a tantrum into the kettle-grey ocean below.

 

first published in San Pedro River Review, Spring 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

4 a.m.

Choked with leaves

4 a.m.

Finally, we fell away and into fractious sleep,
to the sound of rain, gentle as the ebbing
of each dark layer in a long, splintered night.

The heart’s gutters choke with stripped leaves,
damming the torrent of tired, uneasy words.
Another day awaits with nothing free, nothing

resolved, but your familiar breath across my ear
is like the first footsteps taken inside a new temple,
breaking the seal on an overwhelming peace.

 

first published in Poppy Road Review, 2016

Béchamel Sauce

Bechamel Sauce


Béchamel Sauce

Somewhere within me I rarely choose to visit,
I suspect this is perhaps not going to work, and

she’s insisting it should only ever be made
with all-purpose flour, though I’ve been

coping fine with cornflour, or store-brand
packet mixes for years, and it comes out OK

three, possibly, four times out of seven.
And everything in her kitchen matches like

it was all bought with a flawless shrug
and a customary swipe of the store card.

But then we share uncannily similar tastes
in music – Wagner, Kid Creole – and I like

the way she likes the way I smell, even if
I don’t. I’m rafted to this quaint belief that

if you put the work in, there’s no limit
to the lumps that can’t be smoothed out.

 

first published in Cacti Fur, 2016

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.

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

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

Widow

Widow

Widow

She’s now happy to give in, let the weeds
win over at least a corner of the garden,

over there, between the blue clapboard shed
and the fence, too lazy to hold itself up,

furthest from the back porch, where it all
happened. No-one else sees, she supposes.

The rosebay willow herb fills up the view
every July, with its clamour of firework spikes,

more reliably than the delphiniums ever did;
the hoverflies love the nettles, the ragwort,

and bees spoil themselves on crowns of clover.
The redundant sickle hangs from a thick nail.

 

first published in The Cannon’s Mouth, Issue 61, 2016