This week’s theme seems to be Time: a tercet ghazal somehow relating to Homer; post-medievalism, the stars, the fifties and the present. With a subtheme of shopkeepers.

The poets are Caroline Gill, Kevin Cadwallender, Neil Leadbeater, Alexander Hutchison and Vivien Jones.

We have introduced a header photo of some of the audience.

Previously published poems are welcomed for this rolling anthology. How to send, see the first post in August.

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Caroline Gill
The Ocean’s Tears

And there it is again, that sweep of the shore
where a muzzle twitches in mounds of seaweed:
sand clouds hover as paws excavate the shore.

Tiny arms wield toy spades, building a castle
in war zones of wreckage: the all-seeing sun
fires arrows of bronze, which pierce the shore.

Expectation worms its way into the mound:
a cyclopean fortification emerges resplendent,
flaunting its paper flag, commanding the shore.

Forget that tragic year when a giant white horse
rampaged through battlements, hurling timber,
ravaging the citadel, annihilating the shore.

The conflict was in its infancy then; but now
a false sense of security causes a child to spin
cartwheels, her bare feet pounding the shore.

The dog barks, knows by instinct that the tide
has turned: he abandons his buried kingdom,
chases his tail in gold rings around the shore.

Young warriors, fortified by cones and cans,
vault an empty moat to guard their sentry post:
a driftwood drawbridge parts them from the shore.

These heroes lie in wait, surrounded by a storm
of castaway bottles that have no ships, of ships
that have no sea; for all is dry upon the shore.

Frustration festers in this palace of dreams;
for who can tell if there is still a pulsing wave
to shake its heartbeat tears along the shore?


First published in Crab Lines off the Pier, 2010, an anthology, Indigo Dreams Publishing. Then in The Holy Place, 2012, a chapbook by John Dotson and Caroline Gill, published by The Seventh Quarry (Swansea), with Cross-Cultural Communications (New York). Image by Caroline Gill.

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Kevin Cadwallender
Under Capricorn

She said, ‘Aren’t the stars beautiful?’

He explained the gasses in their make up;
          their distance from him, gave
          the latin name for each star
          their constellation and magnitude.

She said, ‘I could reach up and put one in my pocket.’

He smiled, explained the difference in circumference
           between Sirius and her pocket, went on
           to explain how stars evolve, how stars die.

She listened to his voice,
Marvelled at his acquisition of facts,
Nodded her acquiescence
and not wanting to disturb his world,
emptied her pockets of stars.

First published in a pamphlet Son of Lifesong (hybrid) in the eighties. Then in The Last Great Northern Whale, Rookbook publications, 1992.

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Neil Leadbeater
Buying Apples from Mr Aldridge

Buying apples from Mr Aldridge was easy in the ’fifties –
dessert or culinary,
you simply took whatever he had: a Cox’s Orange Pippin
or a heavy cropping Bramley Seedling –
there was not much else to choose from –
no D’Arcy Spice or Laxton’s Fortune;
nothing fancy then.

I’d watch him place the black weights
squarely on the scale.

For a brief moment he’d hold the hoard of orchards
sunlit from the pail.

His smile was the seal on our purchase.
It weighed in his favour. It was the kind of courtesy
that was made for business. The look that
sent out a signal that he’d go that extra mile.

Everywhere I went I learnt to keep that smile.


First published in Poetry Cornwall, 2008

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Alexander Hutchison
Grass of Levity

Grass of levity
Span in brevity
Flower’s felicity
Fire of misery
Wind’s stability
Is mortality.

Simple utility
Fingered lubricity
Sprung from audacity
Known for rapacity
Any capacity
Is mortality.

Boundless servility
Neighbouring nullity
Primping polity
Bits of carnality
Vanity vanity
Is mortality.

What doesn’t signify
Render or simplify
Impaled and crucified
Sat down or sanctified
Any identity
Is mortality.

Further and further space
Gruesome and human face
Graceless or born to grace
Here in this little space
Light in our little case
Is mortality.

The first stanza is Anonymous and dates to 1609.

First published in Scales Dog: Poems New and Selected, Salt, 2007. Image from the Staffordshire Hoard

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Vivien Jones
Whole Fish

I do love the boneless
wonder of pleats of fillets,
the sou’wester yellow of
your fat smoked haddock
and the sideways faces of
your plaice,
but, see that whole fish –
That silvered creature,
with head and tail
and chiffon fins,
film on his body,
blood in his eye,
Go on, open his jaw
show me the wild thing
out of the sea,
that ate his fellows,
let me eat him.
The fishmonger grins,
hands flecked with silver scales,
he folds an octopus
back on itself
like a salt flower.

First published in About Time, Too, Indigo Dreams, 2010. 

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