Poems

‘The Manacles, at Porthoustock’

This is what you gave me, Salvaged from a memory: Watching from the headland. Pointing from the outside in. You named the rocks, Sung them in a circle, Gave them their voice as they stirred in slack water. Penwin; Morah; Maen Voes. And those that came rising from the sea, The finger bones of witches,…

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‘My Shrink’s Window’

lacks trees. And branches, which can never be placated when they strain forward to rap knuckles. Her branchless window negates the passing of time. What is old is as old as the rising of the sap. Branches fork in endless possibilities making bids for freedom yet are inescapably attached, as though redemption lies in following…

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‘The Fire Station’

is a box of matches wedged in the kitchen drawer between polio jabs, BMX wheelies, oily King marbles like dark planets, the car park sign that made us snigger, asking if you had remembered to pay and display your ticket cock when you took us to Beacon Park in the courgette green Hunter the days…

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‘Bark n’ Howl’

Your swing is a siren calling me outlaw, work of the devil made taboo like the jigerboo boogie-man I am ordered to play, pull over & pull your pants down but I’ve got no banana tree or fig leaf stashed just my horn under the dash & blues on my hands blues drippin’ down a…

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‘My Dad has decided’

we’re going to the moon. He walks around the bedroom in his socks while we try to guess what we’re supposed to do next. We’re supposed to know his thoughts, to know about the moon, even though he hasn’t told us. He expects us to read his mind. When I question him he turns on…

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‘Long Love’

He laced up his sneakers and left for a jog as raccoons stumbled from trash cans back to the woods at dawn. Soon the house was awake. His wife fixing lunches, boys slurping oatmeal. He raced the three boys to the bus and walked back home whistling and wondering if today was a day for…

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‘You’ve got potential, baby’

Sometimes it’s a battery or a newly discovered stem cell. A vaccine in early trials. The half-second of still before the referee’s whistle. Tiny hands. Or it’s an explosion, a chemical trigger that pushes molecules from here to there. A release of pure energy in a too-small space. Other times it’s the short dash after…

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‘Concentrating, When One Ought Not’

I should have brought a clipboard. Note: four creases in the pillows. Note: the sides of wardrobes and desk-lamps bent back in a night not quite black enough: tough buffer-zones in a nesting-box. There are twelve bars fizzing on the surface of a clock that imply the time. Note: a touch, seeking a reach, a…

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‘Hospital Visitors’

A sharp gust of river air makes me look up, sensing some commotion at the distant end of the corridor. Wild and heedless, pressing towards me full of fathomless intent, striped by the light from high-vaulted windows, knocking soft cartilage against the walls, three mud-flecked swans smelling of tundra dip and lift their fearsome, faintly…

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‘Thirteen’

There are ginger toms on the fire escape and curtains tied in knots – nine flights up your cigarette ash is burning white and a guy in the corner one they forgot – a puppeteer of memory doesn’t have a clue – this could be New York, a sketch pad in the Hotel Chelsea and…

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‘Blue Peninsula’

For Joseph Cornell Personally I like the hotel’s Spartan décor, the parakeet in the lobby, the way ships salvage has been reused to give the place a nautical air; the fishing net over the windows, for example, which prevents guests from falling out. Every room has a view of the Blue Peninsula. It’s the parrot…

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‘Tunnelling-out’

Instead let me tell you how to present yourself at all times. With me? Yes. Embrace your inner standing still. The shadows? They’ll stare, they’ll stare. Sweetheart, clay- eyes, you with the sootfall heart. Eat. More. Rocket. Its tinselly fronds will nourish. Redemption Is lying with her feet up in the next road, the moles,…

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‘She Leaves’

a hollow space, without plump cushions snug as velvety moles, or her clay lamp that dappled the ceiling with shadows, where red and green wires now blast through a gash in the plasterwork like the WHAAM! of a pop art rocket. I slam tall shutters back on themselves and a wane light embraces the dark…

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‘A History of Rockets’

Let me tell you this: history is a nonsense. They blanked me out of their books, their stories, their minuscule minds but here is the truth: Take a pinch of stolen black powder, a man in a moon, a love of the light and the blackest of nights – this is the real history of…

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‘A Sonnet for Clay Eaters’

Clay crushed under calloused feet and cajoled by hopeful hands is hurled into moulds and sun baked near cottonwood trees. And so, parched bricks are made, one on top another, to build a home. You squat inside, let terra red shadows swaddle your born-bright who stares at you as if seeing God. She pitches arias…

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‘Scientists Count Whales From Space’

  At night we listen to the crackle of antennae as we track populations. 10 million species and then these slow, shallow swimmers, pale against wavelengths. Image analysis shows us 55 probable, 23 possible pixels driven to extinction. We should monitor more. On this screen where lost things are un-found, automated systems surprise us with…

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Podcast: Hannah Lowe reads from ‘Chick’ and a new poem

Last term, Hannah Lowe headlined our Autumn term launch party and read from her debut collection, Chick, where she thrilled the crowd with tales of misadventure from her childhood and illuminated the secret life of her enigmatic, card-playing father. And now, with this podcast, we re-present the whole reading in all its glory. If you…

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‘On the Borders of DTs’

(from The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas) It’s a wild wet day in this tided town and it’s too cold to write. Scarlet ants crawl from the holes in the rocks onto my idle hand. The wind’s blowing hair across my face. I stare from this muddied edge at the shapes of rocks carved in…

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How I Did It: ‘Fat Dandy’

Most people know me as a “performance poet”. I don’t like the term, it’s rather restrictive and plenty of what I write ends up in books, not on stage. Sound is very important though. I want the poem to sound good, to rattle off the tongue, or fall on the ear like a big, soft…

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‘The Summer our Father Sailed the English Channel’

The summer our father sailed the English Channel, we rolled packets of Polos into smooth white paper tubes. My sister used her felt tip pens to write EMERGENCY MINTS down each bony spine. You were our polar explorer, arctic adventurer. We charted your route, coloured the curved waves of land, solid blue slab of sea….

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‘The Certainty of Snow’

  i.m.o. Dave Knightley  First snow of the New Year and, as ever, the cautious and wary will make as if for a siege; check supplies, tune in for updates, and tut at carefree children who shriek just with the thrill of it. Soon the path to our front door will heave, as laden as…

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‘The Time-Traveller Writes’

  As I promised you, time can be re-written: this letter from old age to youth, to tell just how you’ll never know or need to write to warn a younger self than one who writes to you. No need, then, to be a different man: begin as if you knew to tread a surer…

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‘Learning to Count’

  Seven, eight you’re fucking late she says. Hours we waited. Then he says something like Oh, for Chrissake and they both go on until doors slam bangbang! Don’t pry. Don’t spy. Never ask why he was late. One, two buckle my seatbelt. Oh. There’s no seatbelt. (This is years ago.) Watch the road! You’ll…

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How I Did It: ‘The Shipwrecked House II’

I wrote ‘The Shipwrecked House II’ at my grandmother’s funeral. I know this because this image is my contribution to her funeral book. A few weeks later I met Tom Chivers for the first time to discuss my yet untitled collection. I wanted to go with ‘Hook’ in memory of my grandmother (her maiden name)…

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Podcast: James Brookes reads from ‘Sins of the Leopard’

Last term, Poetry School tutor James Brookes co-headlined our Autumn launch party with this wintery tranche of poems from his debut collection, the Dylan Thomas Prize-nominated, Sins of the Leopard, which we are delighted to present to you now. James will also be teaching an Online Feedback Course for us this Spring, so if you…

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