Poetry

Carola Groom

Earth Science News

It says on the news
small things are dying.
Insects and human sperm
are three-quarters gone.

I will plough my fears
into the earth. I will shake
kisses from an envelope
and plant them on you.

Flowers grow on your face,
bright and rampant but
they brown and shrivel.
Seed-heads swell and burst.

Oh husbandry! How the spores
rattle as they fly, six legs
like wind-chimes and wings
of rainbow cellophane!

But that cold hill I ploughed
is barren, as the Romans knew
and others have since learned.
In the brackish furrows

my fears grow wriggling tails
and burrow deep by instinct,
till questing little heads
meet the ovum at the core.

It says on the news
there’ll be a slowdown
in our planet’s rate of spin.
Next year I harvest earthquakes.

 

Carola Groom is a Saddleworth-based writer and social researcher. She writes novels and poems, and has some experience as a book reviewer and leader of creative writing sessions in schools.

 

Poetry

Mattias Thomas

No Rosetta Stone

Something more than routine cotton,
more than mother mooning proud over nothing.
This worm-knot in my muscle is a fist for something solid,
a proof of endeavour, a peg in a hollow.

There will be no evidence left, no artefacts, or treasure.
A vast silver cloud, an imagining of data
– ephemeral, and digital, and null.

There will be no Rosetta Stone for our daughters and sons.
We are erasing our own place in history,
deleting our existence with keystrokes and buttons.

There are so many copies of us now,
we have become plankton.
We are amoeba, self-duplicating,
a series of zeros and ones.

 

Mattias Thomas is a half-Swedish husband and father from Barry Island, South Wales. He studied English at Oxford University before dropping out to work for the family gardening business. He has been writing poetry for 17 years to moderate acclaim from his gran.

Poetry

Breslin White

ACTIVELY LIKE A SPARROW, SO MANY SONGS SUNG

Sparrows sit uncomfortably in shallow nests of straw;
one nest, several sparrows. I can delineate
their lives. One sparrow, two; I count just two.
They are tiny and fragile. Making noises, so I
noticed them; I think they’re kind of cute.
Brown, huddling at the sides of the nest, they
sit abreast the threat of snow. They have
a touch of black, actually. One step, two,
the sparrows uncurl and hope to move about;
their little legs arise and form a military
march. Around the circle they go, panting
like we would, and most of all, never leaving home.

 

 

Breslin White is a poet of Irish and Japanese heritage. Breslin can be found sharing the books he likes to read on Goodreads. He has published a poetry book called Lily Thrust.

 

Poetry

Alison Lock

The Blessing

After you were born, we planted a tree
– a sapling pear.

The glint of a spade in the afternoon sun; a signal
for the soil to nourish with tenderness

a ritual renewed by the sound of a new born’s snuffle.
In time, the blossom is as white as your flesh

is pink.  Fragile heads flicker in the breeze.
A salutation to Hera.

Then come the fruits, kernels of creation.
Each one a single drop of tear.

Time waits for the flight of an angel’s wing;
as our abundant crop hails his first cry, our blessing

and so you were born
– a slow motion memory of pear parting tree.

 

The Blessing was originally published in A Slither of Air (2011) Indigo Dreams Publishing

Alison Lock is a poet and author of six publications – three poetry collections, two collections of short stories, and a fantasy novella. Her stories have won prizes in The London Magazine Competition 2015, The Sentinel Quarterly Review, and The 14th Conference for the Short Story in English at Shanghai.

 

 

 

Poetry

Ian Harker

Lovesong of a Wily Old Pike

Pike from the tips of my grinning lips
to the ends of my tail, children running riot
over the open fields, drunks lurching home
from the Fisherman’s Arms talk about me with awe.
They say I am mostly scar. The way they talk you’d think
grown men had been dragged to their deaths over the ditch
across the lane into my dark, bright, stinging water
singing with blowflies and midges and water boatmen.

But no one bothers me. Never has.
I loom in the gloom and make the best of it,
threshing up silt into clouds around me
and settling in with the stillness.

Why do they call me wily if I have never
bitten off more than I could chew?
If me and the silt are one and the same?
I tell you I’m a cunning old devil
for picking a pond in a field near a lane
next to a road leading to a village where everyone
leaves everything around them alone.
People who know the land is bigger than they are,
water deeper, stone colder,  people who know
that pikes have their place. I’m a wily old pike it’s true.

 

Ian Harker was a winner of Templar Poetry’s Book and Pamphlet competition in 2017, and his pamphlet The End of the Sky was followed by his fist full collection Rules of Survival. His work has appeared in a variety of competitions and magazines, and he’s co-founder of Strix.

 

 

Poetry

Roy Marshall

Seeing the Entomologist

He doesn’t know that a bee, drinking salt
from the pores on his wrist, is called
a Sweat Bee. Nor that a butterfly, fluttering by,
has memories of caterpillar life.

He rolls onto his stomach, shades his eyes,
says, ‘now you’re making it up.’ She laughs, her hair
a spill on the grass, counters,
‘google it if you like.’

He learns how a raft spider can submerge
for an hour, that Hawk moths have ears
on their mouths. She doesn’t know
that the lake remembers

every pebble you throw, and that
if a loved one dies, a body can fill
with grief, the way a water barrel
fills with sky.

 

Roy Marshall’s first pamphlet Gopagilla (2012) received favourable reviews in the TLS and elsewhere. His first full collection The Sun Bathers was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Award, and a second collection The Great Animator (Shoestring Press) appeared in 2017. Previously a nurse, Roy now works in adult education.

You can follow Roy’s blog here: Roy Marshall

 

 

Poetry

Jo Haslam – Two Poems

 

Today we are delighted to feature two poems from Jo Haslam’s brand new collection, Fetch, published by Templar Poetry. The book will be launched with a special reading at Keats House on the 29 March. The collection draws on urban and rural landscapes, the world of painting, and experiences of displacement and loss to explore the evolving ties between family, culture and language.

 

Hoar Frost 

Whatever was lost to the open sky
is replaced by these drops of ghost water,
ice in its dreamstate blown from the mouth
of winter asleep, spreading its network
of furred spikes of moss and blanched fern.
What would it take to freeze each pearl
or fretted grass blade or touch them awake
to a world of rain? We look to the sky
laden with frost and cloud to release
its cold breath as whisper or iron word

 

 

Fritillary

What’s the meaning of this flower
that folds and opens in an hour
between showers
 

and sun, between the months
of March and April?
I push the bulbs eight inches down
 

to work with other hidden things
under earth and dark and stone
then take my paper and my pen
 

much as any gardener does
note the barely there green stem
the dangled fretwork of its head


as from the rain black ground
comes leper lily, meleagris
fritillus
, with its snakeskin on.

 

 

Jo Haslam – Jo is a Marsden based poet whose first collection Light from the Upper Left was published by Smith/Doorstop after winning the Poetry Business competition in 1994. This was followed by her collection The Sign for Water and a pamphlet Lunar Moths. Her work has appeared in poetry magazines and received recognition in major poetry competitions, including the 2010 National Poetry Competition where her poem ‘Wish’ won joint second prize. He third collection, Fetch, published by Templar Poetry is available now.