Wilderness | Mingled SpaceV. 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

Hare & Clown | Margaret Adkins Writing
Sun on frozen pond | Margaret Adkins Writing





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.

Ivy |Poems | Margaret Adkins Writing





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

                                               tectonic plates.

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





The Chills



so cold a fire, the fire

of fever

pleading, teeth-striking



blankets fastened 

tight to throat 


the need  

to strip

for the sleigh ride

of fever

Written in an online course with Wendy Pratt: 

Writing in the Blood (2020)





Never Bought 



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

have gnawed

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


   For Paul



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

Your Quarrel
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