Poem, Poetry

Ian Clarke

Sunday School

No happy water giggling over pebbles,
just a slow river wide through the fen,
to the estuary, to a tern’s cry in a breaking wave.

From my window I could see the church tower’s stone owl,
our allotment’s skylark, clay pipes and cockleshells,
a field of wheat lace-wing green.

Home was jam on a rolling boil,
Victoria plums sweet as ice bright air,
where the dawn chorus spread from blackbird to thrush,
and on August evenings the moon still warm
by the jetty where steps sagged to the steep dark.

But that morning on the road to Sunday school,
a green car tangled under ice,
the wind sang in cold wires all the way to class,
hands frost nipped, waiting in line for the teacher’s
chairs on tables, fingers on lips.

On the way home, tyre tracks, blood on winter aconites,
black ice they said, where he lost control,
slipped under the river’s edge.

I thought of him during lessons –
All Things Bright and Beautiful, Onward Christian Soldiers,
all sure and steadfast, blood and fire,
listening to the wind’s prayer,
the tick of sleet on high windows.

Later, coming home as the light faded,
passing that tease of deep water,
me aged thirteen, freewheeling, whooping it up,
steel tips sparking the road from church.



Ian Clarke.  Fenland ex pat poet living in Harrogate. Published widely in anthologies, in magazines and on-line. Latest book Owl Lit published by Dempsey and Windle (2017).

Poem, Poetry

The Colour of Light – Anne Steward

We are delighted to help celebrate the twenty seventh publication from Maytree Press by sharing two poems from Anne Steward’s new collection, The Colour of Light.

Anne, an award winning writer from Huddersfield, has had work featured in numerous publications and her debut collection, Casting for Words, was published by CMP Press as part of an award by The National Association of Writers’ Groups.

In The Colour of Light we find the poet at a time of national lockdown looking back on the places, people and events that had once been her world. A sequence that slowly emerges from a philosophical investigation of the natural world and concludes with the echoes of life seen through the ripples of water.

An extraordinary collection that you will want to read again and again.

‘Anne Steward’s poetry is a miracle of observation. Her photographer’s eye and philosophical mindset gives us writing to feed both the senses and the soul.’ James Nash.

You can join Anne on-line this Friday (2 July) at 7pm for the official launch of The Colour of Light. Joining Anne will be guest readers Tim Taylor, George Simmons and, offering a preview of her forthcoming Maytree collection, Nicola Warwick. Simply email maytreepress@gmail.com with the word LIGHT in the title field for an invite.

The Colour of Light

Colour is left-over light,
where matter takes in
colours rejected,
to be caught by our eye
and artists of all schools
studiously recording
what they believe
they see. 

So …a sunflower eats rays
and throws back yellows
that shout of sunshine.

Dust at sunset
to mist hills to distance
as refracted, reflected light
giddily mixes tones to soft,
as a child, playing with paint,
will mix bright, clear tints,
then is surprised
that the colour is mud.

Light does it better,
but then, it has had time.

Ovid is Bloody Annoyed
(After reading the story of his exile)

What is this land, this foreign soil
that I have been newly exiled upon?
They speak, but, dear gods…
I cannot bring myself to mimic sounds
that grate so on my cultured ear.
My lovely Latin fails to impress
these clumsy-mouthed oafs. 
I must be grateful, so you say 
that I am, at all, allowed to stay.
There are options that could be worse
but if I have to eat more of that dish
so foul, and well, so simply coarse,
I may elect to take myself
and meekly walk out there, alone
where barbarians have their lair
and offer up my infected heart
for them to lance with their deadly darts
and let free the poison of this place
that I can never call my home.

The Colour of Light is now available direct from the author, from all good book shops and on-line direct from the publisher: The Colour of Light by Anne Steward | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Poetry

The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society

Today we celebrate the launch of our first anthology, The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. Published by Maytree Press, the collection features forty seven poems inspired by the South Pennine landscapes, towns and people. The book features poems by Simon Armitage, Tom Weir, Hannah Stone, Jo Haslam, Gaia Holmes and many more. We’ll be celebrating the launch today with editors, David Coldwell and Mark Kelley at the Marsden Walking Festival where an array of poets featured in the collection will be joining us at Marsden Library from 6pm. Join us if you can.

You can order your copy now direct from our on-line shop – dare we say; it makes a perfect stocking filler.

At the Kitchen Table

The late spring snow
catches us off-guard,
drifts against the henhouse wall,
blots out the distant moors.

And here, in this borrowed house,
we watch, transfixed,
brave the blizzard
to throw scraps for the birds,
half-wishing it could always be like this.

Just you and I
at the kitchen table—
your crossword, my novel,
the weekend papers,
the last bottle of oak-aged red
waiting on the shelf.

Yet we know
the snow will thaw by morning,
and we’ll drive down the lane
for bread and logs,
ice-melt from the trees
pattering on the bonnet.

Then, too soon,
the workday grind will call us back
to the small house in the town,
where everything is a little less bright
and a little less kind.

As we leave,
the weather will change again,
the brilliant shine of it
making us smile,
and I’ll point out a newborn lamb,
his ears luminous, backlit by the sun,
as he watches us drive away.

Amanda Huggins

 

9781916038141

Poetry

Colin Dardis

Burnt Out Car on Glenshane Pass

“That wouldn’t have been done in daylight.”
Mind you, there’s traffic here all the time
the countryside never at sleep.

Perhaps the flames were awaiting flakes
of snow to dampen its crime, turning
metalwork to eggshell, lustre to dust.

Then thieves tramping back home,
full of drunken exhilaration,
or perhaps, the morning meeting

with insurance claims, paperwork,
the value of guilt inked inside
a little white box of unknowing.

 

 

Colin Dardis was one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2016, with a collection with Eyewear, the x of y, forthcoming in 2018. His work has been published widely throughout Ireland, the UK and USA. Colin also co-runs Poetry NI and is the online editor for Lagan Press. www.colindardispoet.co.uk

 

Poetry

Martin Bewick

A Viewfinder

The pasture greyed, the rattling beck mute
behind secondary glazing, the fizz of pylons too,
in a day of scarce light. The aperture of a former
home is wide as the hours require, and
each year now we shovel our signifiers,
brushing leaves across our yards as the wind
lifts. But there is no wind. Beyond the old
neighbours’ place, twenty on foot and four in
the car, an ombré smudge of tones settles –
hawthorn, sodden, briars sagging, and mud
deep, kicked up by cows gone to the byre
for milking, or fell sheep, if there were sheep.
The power station, a blackened copse somewhere
about the edge of land, fading, its cooling
towers merged with vapours that lift, sink,
sink as the sea of Hibernia turns away, its
back brushing the pile of exhausted chimneys,
almost gone, almost deconstructed. Concrete
follies of a folly in a half-life of feeding families
now lost in their own decommission. Kids now
all grown up with kids of their own and those kids
with kids. In this the division between subject and
object. Ambiguity felt as uncommon knowledge,
as our own approximate selves, knowledge frozen
to make fear dormant, fear of nothing, foam
surfing across the pebbles, the air still and
no new windmills turning beyond our vision.
This attenuated point between fog and rain.
Beyond where the trees stood, the trees cut down
where the west is lost to water. The invisible men
who packed the market squares gone back
south for new contracts, their rented terraces at
the edge of towns vacant, earth settling from that
last ploughing, our minding of this, recurring,
seen through a blue filter and smear of vaseline
and clearing some hairs from before your eyes.
Taking photos on an old SLR as if we lived here,
still. A next horizon never really reached,
only encountered in thought again, again

 

MW Bewick’s first collection of poetry, Scarecrow, was published in 2017. He is the co-founder of independent publisher Dunlin Press and an organiser at Poetrywivenhoe in Essex, where he lives. Recent publication credits include London Grip, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Coast to Coast to Coast and The Interpreter’s House. @mwbewick