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Maurice Devitt

Salaryman

I might have been fourteen
when I overheard a neighbour
talking to my mother, about how
her husband had been passed over
for a job in the bank and him by far
the best candidate. I didn’t know
what it really meant, but somehow
I looked at him in a duller light,
this man I was in awe of, partly
because they had all the stations
before us and partly because
he seemed to know the answer
to every question, his didactic commentary
a soundtrack to all our TV viewing.
I began to notice him on later buses
in the morning, his suits less sharp,
his eyes downcast and then one day
I heard he had retired early.
Walking back from football
in the park, his son explained
that he had left before the company
collapsed and was considering other offers.

 

Winner of the 2015 Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition, Maurice Devitt has been runner-up or shortlisted in Listowel, Cuirt, Patrick Kavanagh, Interpreter’s House and Cork Literary Review. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, chairperson of the Hibernian Writers’ Group and has just published his debut collection ‘Growing Up in Colour’ with Doire Press.

Rachel Burns

Macho Man

I remember a time
when we were both just kids, teenagers
the camping holiday in the Lakes
a surge of moth-eaten tent days and nights.
A middle-aged man camping alone
just a stone’s throw away,
asking, would you like a cup of tea?
We could hardly contain our sniggers,
voicing, dirty old perv, under our breath.
A sad loner who gave us a ride to Pooley Bridge
in his three-wheeler Robin Reliant that tipped on the bends
we watched him dance to Black Lace with the little girls
at the church hall disco, watched as he jumped
into the air, giddy as a teenager
shouting, Macho man!

 

Rachel Burns has poetry published in Crannog, Poetry Salzburg Review, Algebra of Owls and is anthologized in Poems for Grenfell Tower, Poems for the NHS, and #MeToo. She has a poetry pamphlet forthcoming with Vane Women Press.

Matthew Paul

Dawson City

Jimmy O’Neill said the Klondike ’99ers had nothing on them,
who built that tinderbox town overnight: hundreds of Irish
slogging their holy guts out for the Halifax Corporation, laying
rails over eight great bridges to the waters of Walshaw Dean.

Jimmy, ‘the Glenties Goliath’, had more than earned his spurs
in the breakneck free-for-alls they waged against the English
on every construction across their land. Plenty took him on,
unwisely, for he felled a good few dead with his cudgelling fists.

On Midsummer’s Eve, a young Liverpudlian, half Jimmy’s size,
threw down the gauntlet. The whole of Dawson City—women,
wee’uns and all—watched the scally hold Jimmy at arm’s-length.
They swore to Jesus it was the Devil himself at work, deflecting

jackhammer blows, as if that scrawniest Spring-heeled Jack
was untouchable, a wee boy capering around like a billy goat,
confounding Jimmy fierce drunk. In the end, just one solitary
southpaw jab knocked Jimmy over straight like a timbered pine;

and he lay there, like Gulliver restrained by Lilliputian tethers.

 

Matthew Paul lives and works, in local government, on the outskirts of London. His collection The Evening Entertainment was published by Eyewear in 2017. He is also the author of two collections of haiku, both published by Snapshot Press, most recently The Lammas Lands, 2015. He tweets @MatthewPaulPoet.

J. S. Watts

Looking For New Words

I am looking for new words,
words that do not drag their bags behind them,
do not walk in the footsteps of their own echoes.
I want words that set themselves alight,
scattering each and all they contain
to the circling winds of memory.
Words as fierce as fire-dyed chrysanthemums,
as strong as drums.

We are searching for new words,
words of truth and resonance,
putting others first and themselves after.
We are tired of words so spun and moulded
they split on politicians’ tongues,
equivocating with themselves in the delivery.
Words as fresh as fragile daisies,
as compelling as drums.

This world needs brave new words,
words of hope and promise,
offering refuge and compassion,
the soft rising light of humanity.
Why condone words barring the way,
proffering hard silence instead of welcome,
speech spitting torn petals of poppy and marigold
like the driving drum beats of war?

 

J.S.Watts is a poet and novelist. Her books include: poetry –  “Cats and Other Myths”, “ Years Ago You Coloured Me”, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” and “The Submerged Sea”, and novels – “A Darker Moon” and “Witchlight”. Her new novel, “Old Light” is due out in 2019.

Website:  http://www.jswatts.co.uk/  Facebookwww.facebook.com/J.S.Watts.page

Tim Taylor – Two Poems

This week, to celebrate the launch of Maytree 003, we are delighted to feature not one but two poems by Holmfirth based author, Tim Taylor. The two poems have been chosen because one made the cut and the other, sadly, didn’t. We still believe, however, that The Cowrie Shell deserves a greater audience and we are delighted to be able to feature it in the Village. Personally I really like the Cowrie Shell but unfortunately we just couldn’t make it fit in the collection – the tough choices of poet and editor! So now we like to think of the Cowrie Shell as the hidden track of Sea Without A Shore and it’s only right that we feature it alongside the key track in the pamphlet. Pioneer holds the clue to the title of the collection and inspired the choice of cover art which features the painting, Changing Light by Saltaire based artist, Paula Dunn.

You can purchase Sea Without A Shore on-line from our own Village Shop or, if you’re anywhere near Holmfirth on the 2 July, direct from Tim at his forthcoming launch event at Holmfirth Library.

The Cowrie Shell

“Just chuck ‘em in the skip,” she said
as if each object in that box
were not once part of me:
attached by long sinews of stories,
fed by flimsy arteries
through which a child’s heart
once pumped them full of meaning.

The box took them when life moved on.
Now lifeless, so I thought
but peeling back the cardboard
I could sense the gasps for air.
Each object in its turn cried out;
the child in me woke up
and would not let them go.

Among the marbles and the model cars
I found a cowrie shell: smooth, mottled,
exuding still the faintest smell of salt.
“You remember me,” it said
– that holiday in 1969”. I felt
a flickering of what seemed like recall.
I dug deep for that memory,
found it rotted by the years.
I steeled myself, obeyed
the pitiless reminder:
“you cannot keep them all.”

Not quite big enough to be an ornament,
if fitted better in a smaller hand.
I put it down: out fell a single grain of sand.

Pioneer

Humans made me
with exquisite care, but then, in fire
and violence, thrust me far away.
Obedient, I spied on giants,
sent my postcards home.
No more: their Earth
has long winked out of sight,
their Sun – a dot among its sister stars.
I am silent now: my masters
cannot see or hear me,
nor I them. Still, I travel on
bringing their message
to anyone in this infinity of black
who might yet care to see.

There being no one
I have found a purpose of my own:
to navigate this sea without a shore
to ride its tides, explore its nothingness,
to understand the nature of the void.
It lends perspective:
One day – not far away
by the eternal standards of this place –
humans, their Earth and all trace of it
will have folded into time.
Except for me: I travel on
bearing their image on my side
until swallowed by a star
or by the end of everything.

(Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter, lost contact with Earth on January 23, 2003. It is now thought to be 11 billion miles away. It carries a plaque with pictures of a man and woman.)

 

Tim Taylor is a Holmfirth based author who has previously published two novels. Sea Without A Shore is his debut poetry pamphlet. Visit our shop here

Image: Changing Light by Paula Dunn. Found out more here

Karen Dennison

Little Compton

I’ll stash the old cassette, that soundtrack you made me,
in my heart. I’ll rest my heart on the bench
of stone in the terracotta chapel where we sat
in its circular silence, read about a monument to love.

I’ll shrink the chapel down
so it fits on my palm, tie it to a rock, row a boat
out to the Surrey lake. As I reach out, offer the chapel
to its waters, its skin will shudder and break, then heal

the wound it makes. The little chapel will sink
to its bed and years of lake will rock my heart
to sleep and my heart will dream of your music,
unspooling from its tape.

Karen Dennison won the Indigo Dreams Collection Competition in 2011 resulting in the publication in 2012 of her first collection Counting Rain. Her second collection, The Paper House, was published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in Spring 2019. Karen is co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

M. E. Muir

Identity

Listen to science talking

excitable helium
inhabits this exo-planet

meta-analyses do not prove nothing
and nothing is never zero

identity waits floating
on a string held by a little girl
who runs ahead of us

she is looking for recognition
in far-off space

exo-planets transit Nasa’s K2
trying to tell us who we are

the red balloon carries her further
into our own identity over borders
where our envy builds

we trip up    running to catch her
wondering who on earth we are

I stretch for the balloon
but the string escapes me

I only want to be her

 

M. E. Muir is a Scot now living in London, former teacher and business consultant, some of whose work has recently been published in Dawntreader, Carillon, Morphrog, The Curlew and The London Grip.