21 January 2018


By lamp or morning light,
Bent close over the page,
You heard the language right,
No matter from what age.

Whether Jonson's grieving prayers,
Or Milton's rich designs,
Or Melville's rugged verse,
Or Winters' densest lines,

Your mind knew the intent,
Your voice wakened the sound -
The sleeping beauty pent
In chambers underground.

Surrounded now by noise,
My words, that sought your praise,
Your understanding voice,
Confront the silent days.

- Helen Pinkerton

20 January 2018


Two rivers deepening into one;
less said, more meant; a field of corn
adjusting to harvest; a battle won

by yielding; days emptied to their brim;
an autumn; a wedding; a logarithm;
self-evidence earned, a coming home

to something brand new but always known;
not doing, but being - a single noun;
now in infinity; a fortune found

in all that’s disposable; not out there, but in,
the ceremonials of light in the rain;
the power of being nothing, but sane.

- Gwyneth Lewis

17 January 2018


 Winter Encounters
House and hollow; village and valley-side;
 The ceaseless pairings, the interchange
In which the properties are constant
 Resumes its winter starkness. The hedges’ barbs
Are bared. Lengthened shadows
 Intersecting, the fields seem parcelled smaller
As if by hedgerow within hedgerow. Meshed
 Into neighbourhood by such shifting ties,
The house reposes, squarely upon its acre
 Yet with softened angles, the responsive stone
Changeful beneath the changing light:
 There is a riding-forth, a voyage impending
In this ruffled air, where all moves
 Towards encounter. Inanimate of human,
The distinction fails in these brisk exchanges  -
 Say, merely, that the roof greets the cloud,
Or by the wall, sheltering its knot of talkers,
 Encounter enacts itself in the conversation
 May lean at ease, weighing the prospect of rain, tares
And their progress though a field of wheat  -
 These, though of moment in themselves,
Serve rather to articulate the sense
 That having met, one meets with more
Than the words can witness. One feels behind
 Into the intensity that bodies through them
Calmness within the wind, the warmth in cold.
- Charles Tomlinson

16 January 2018


We looked to learn,
lit the lamp, waited
till something like a bloom
could be gathered,
its freedom tethered
by a shaft of light,

the way this lovely girl,
observing her own shadow,
holds up twelve years of life,
complicated filigree,
a thread leading home,
a rope to be cast off.

- Maura Dooley

15 January 2018


There are those who have not fled shame

the numberlessness of am

the innumerable one

in whom

the dark of the moon, as absence, abstinence, is home.

In shoals, in sheols, they will come

with mobile phones.


Gillian Allnutt

14 January 2018


There was that headland, asleep on the sea,
The air full of thunder and the far air
Brittle with lightning; there was that girl
Riding her cycle, hair at half-mast,
And the men smoking, the dinghies at rest
On the calm tide.  There were people going
About their business, while the storm grew
Louder and nearer and did not break.

Why do I remember these few things,
That were rumours of life, not life itself
That was being lived fiercely, where the storm raged?
Was it just that the girl smiled,
Though not at me, and the men smoking
Had the look of those who have come safely home?

R. S. Thomas

12 January 2018


I can’t keep awake these days. As soon as I get home I’m underneath

the eiderdown, dozing in my tights, the radio announcer shrinking to an insect

buzzing with the news of war. If only I could let the politicians into bed
with me they might be pacified, inhale my unwashed pillowslip and milky breath,

close their eyes against the amber stencil of the window frame. The Foreign
Secretary could form a spoon and tuck his knees into the opposition’s flank,

Mr President relax his grip and rest a hand there on a Middle Eastern hip.
Together we might chat in whispers of our days, interpreters translating softly

into open ears: that conference in Karachi that went on and on, crisis talks
in Belfast and New York. I’ll tell of how in Norwich I unclogged the photocopier

again, sipped instant coffee, heavy-lidded in the lull of three o’clock. The Premier
of Holland will recount an anecdote in perfect English (the astounding fart

that punctured talks on agricultural policy). Eventually our giggling will stutter
to its end, our ribs relax, we’ll fall into the rhythm of each other’s breath

and stay like that for twelve hours at a stretch, arms around each other’s middles,
dreaming not of anything we want because we have it, all there is to have.

- Kathryn Simmonds