Thanks to the poets whose poems piled in after last month’s KPAI — keep them coming. This has enabled me to produce another instalment in the middle of a rushed and busy month — what’s new, poets? And you relax and question, draw pebbles, write sestinas, make collages, wonder about the triumph of evil (Moriarty), and concentrate on the timelessness of stone. Thanks to Morelle Smith, Maggie Mackay, Stephen Mead, David Whippman and Joan Lennon.
To contribute, send previously published poems (published at least three years ago) to which you hold the copyright, by email to sally evans 35 at gmail dot com.
You may send your own images, otherwise I will find suitable copyright-free illustrations, which I quite enjoy doing. Sometimes it is a challenge. Morelle Smith and Joan Lennon sent their own illustrations for their poems, as well as the collages from Stephen Mead.
I should add that Morelle Smith took the header photo we are using at the moment. It’s of fells near Kirkby Lonsdale, where a substantial stream comes out of a hole in the ground (in field , right foreground) and runs down to the River Lune. To me, that stands for continuous and timeless poetic inspiration. Thanks to Morelle.
See you some time in September.
Canal Street Café
The café is empty,
except for me, and the person
who brings me a mug of tea.
He is tall, speaks slowly
has a foreign accent I cannot identify
and an exquisite jawline.
Thick moisture on the inside
of the window.
When I run my finger over it,
water drips down the pane.
And outside, it is raining.
A newspaper lies on the table
next to me.
I am writing in my book
and the footsteps of the man
who served me
move slowly across the café –
measured steps I hear quite clearly
above the whiny chatter of the radio.
I’m just about to look up
when he picks up the paper,
walks back again
behind the counter.
I left most of the mug of tea,
not because it tasted bad
or I didn’t like the mug
or the radio station.
Or because the sound of the knife
being sharpened grated on my ear.
No, I left because I was late for
That’s why I didn’t drink the tea.
It had nothing to do with that
The Way Words Travel, UK Authors Press, 2005
Picking up the Pencil
Your student hand pencils a heavy mark
on the white space. The stone’s grain
starts to show. Gleaned at low tide,
it smacks of salted beds of pebbles,
washed by North Sea currents and seaweed traces.
Light movements across the space calm your doubts.
Banishing Mrs Smuts you lose your school day doubts,
smudge, rub, blot a heavy line or loose mark,
stirred by the sense of Joan Eardley’s traces,
her footprints on that beach. Another line reveals a grain
of doubt which stops your hand. A second pebble
is a fresh challenge, a chance to stem the tide.
You walk Joan’s sands. Dreamtime… beachcombing at low tide,
your feet drawing faint surface lines. Those doubts
sting your fingers, blotting seal-grey patterns in pebbles,
like synapses in nerve cells. Your eyes lift to mark
the angled detail with smeared grooves of grain.
The room stills. You hear a pencil shift to leave its traces.
You stare into the image, make traces
of an orange stone, crater blasted, eroded by the tide,
a volcano, bursting gigantic grains
across your sketch page. More fuel for your doubts?
Instead your fingers smear a rivulet to mark
the change of colour, a dark replaced by brighter pebbles.
Six on the table, a daunting huddle of pebbles,
battered by nature, revealing traces
of water, salt, their individual mark
you imitate with your tiring hand as the tide
of indecision grapples with those limpet doubts.
You falter. Not like you to let slip a single grain.
Your teacher intervenes with a grain
of insight. ‘Change your perspective on those pebbles.
Refresh your touch, flex your fingers, chase those doubts
down.’ You erase careless carbon traces,
the hesitating lines of an easy, potent tide,
run a fine and bolder mark.
The grain of lines and traces take shape in this enlightening life,
as you view the pebbles, imbued with colour by infinite tide;
Your doubts slip away as enduring love of learning makes its mark.
The Lake – contemporary poetry webzine february 2014
Bring Colour Back to Me
(above) from the print zine, Color Wheel, 1990s
The Fall of Sherlock Holmes
Called from London, the Great Detective
travels first class. (He will answer for this
when the sink estates rise against Lestrade’s men.)
The famous sleuth looks as always
for clues and reasonable motives – jealously, greed –
but beyond his magnifying glass
the world is creeping up on him
and the pointless murders happen with genocide speed.
With a final flourish, Moriarty is unmasked
but removes a second disguise. Underneath
he is something much worse
and this time, he will win.
published by Snakeskin in 2013.
One More Happy Boulder
And if you must,
for the peace of prehistory,
the long slow swing
of years without name,
time marked only by
of continents, or
the meticulous production of sand
Let me join in Scotland’s ancient
centimetric journey from the South,
where tall pre-fossil trees,
serenely stone now in a Glasgow park,
in the soup-like warmth.
That is the journey
I would choose –
where no wrong turning troubled
and no one tired of travel
and there was no one.
Rock me gently in the arms of such
One more happy boulder
amongst so many
could do no harm.
Spectrum magazine, 1994
poem published in 2007 on ListenandBeHeard.net