Wilderness | Mingled Space | V. Press | 2019
On 16th October 2017
the sky turned orange.
James, homeless in
Birmingham talked to me
about doorways and his
aversion to beds.
This video poem
is dedicated to James, wherever he is...
Imagining a Changed Place
If it’s me that ends up alone
at our breakfast table
I’ll still eat an apple, slowly baked
the night before, with honeyed
nuts in yogurt. I’ll focus on the wren
outside finding tiny fragrant
spiders, tucked up in rosemary
blooms – and when she sings, I’ll watch
her nebule of breath
I will set your chair
far enough back – for you to fill it.
First published in Atrium 2017
Remenant of an Endling
Perfect and unwhole
burnished and lichenous
solid and honeycombed.
A ball no longer socketed
for a mammoth’s movement.
I remember the weight of thirst.
The day-long shafting
of sun penetrated your hollow
when mud was dust
tasting of spooled guts.
I remember the tread
as your pelvis levelled with life.
The growing inside
the circle of bone
loosened me; pained you
wending your way to birthing.
Written in a workshop with Ruth Stacey
Lost Landscapes (2018)
Liquid as crucible melt,
sun pours onto the garden pond
sideways, leaving a corner
still and black as forest earth.
So still, orange and yellow fish
are reined under creased water
enamelled – mosaicked with ivy
stalks and birdseed wrinkling
in solid aspic. As artefacts
the fish do and do not interact.
Harbour-mouthed they hang
where living cells cannot fracture.
Bird Mite to Buzzard
An empty blackbird nest is a cold hearth —
without my host, I am lame.
I see you soaring in the squintlight,
peering down your hooked continent
at the green cowl above this cluster
of chimneys I will never climb —
like a Victorian mother’s sweetheart
gagging for the stacks to gulp sky.
Stuck in a discarded feather
soot from the ivy clings.
I see you swapping positions
and I brace myself
for the draught from your shifting
Written in an online course with Jean Atkin:
The Inside and the Outside (2020)
Will you ever blow up a paper bag
like you did when all the lemon sherbets were gone
and the roof of your mouth was pebble-dashed,
for no other reason than to hear the pop?
I will and I won't. I will if I can
still river down the stairs on my stomach
sucking butterscotch, juddering over the ridges.
I won't if I can't find a paper bag.
First version published in Prole 2019
so cold a fire, the fire
tight to throat
for the sleigh ride
Written in an online course with Wendy Pratt:
Writing in the Blood (2020)
The worm that hauls itself
through mattresses of wood
has chewed through the baby’s
rattle. Not all of it –
just the soft lozenged ends.
Thin rods caging the bells
are still pristine
for fingers to clutch and drop.
The worm leaves a tracery
of capsule-shaped gullies
and fine-as-smoke frass
where gums could
had the baby been born.
Written in a National Writing Day Event at The Poetry Pharmacy 2019
Discovering artefacts from the old ironmongery.
Duddeston Viaduct 1930
After the first brick, ten were laid in Upper Trinity Street
One hundred after ten, a thousand after a hundred,
a hundred thousand after a thousand
until millions stacked up, curving in layers:
the blue-legged python thrust forward through Deritend,
siphoning light out of the back-to-backs
wedged in the squeeze. When wet with rain
the wall of louring blue brick
looks like a snake skinned
to leather something big - like God's mackintosh
but the boy under the arches, sniggering
with Leah and the others, ignoring the smell
of lingering cow, doesn't think like that.
Under the old bridge Leslie Adkins
retells the tale of a neighbour-mother
pulling him out of petrification
and through her shadow-spanked door:
out of the course of a thousand thundering
hooves of cattle, escaped from the loading station
at the top of their road.
One day under the arches, his son
will stand looking at buddleia rooted
in a high, sunless spot that his late father
could surely reach back then with scraped knees
and a great leap after pushing off from the other side.
He will see the bricks and imagine the boy.
He will see the bricks and feel caught in a tintype
watching muscle fired like clay flexing a chain
to lift hod after hod; lay line after blue line
with hands tanned to scabbards.
Under the arches he will remember his father.
First published in This Is Not Your Final Form [Emma Press 2017]
An anthology of poems about Birmingham chosen from entries
for the inaugural Verve Festival competition.
Your Quarrel first published in Mingled Space | V. Press | 2019
also features in These Are The Hands | Fair Acre Press | 2020