Poems

‘Lady Boondaburra’s Spring’

Again the him came and fought that other one spur on spur they rousing such a splash ‘til he’s growl and stung swum off – he I never seen once, nor him that’s done his business with me, come to think. No mind me. Clutch me hatchling oval, all those dawn-rises and down-suns, all them…

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‘An Armadillo Takes To The Stage At London Zoo’

I’m really not cut out for showbiz. I may look tough in my leathery armour, but inside my heart is soft as mud. I’m not flashy. I don’t have the meerkats’ swagger. Nobody gasps when an armadillo shuffles in. You’d think with all these plates of bone covering my body, I wouldn’t be so thin-skinned….

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‘Polar Bears, Auckland Zoo, Summer 1963’

Dark mucky eyes.  Muzzles pant, sniff air, mad with the scent of humans, or seals.  I hold my toffee apple and dangle a red jandalled foot through bars above their pit. Bears sway  in sync, contained in white, a concrete code for snow.  Polar bears attack only when hungry, or provoked—I imagine blood,  shreds of skin, knuckles…

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How I Did It: ‘witchbundle’

Creating the premise for your poem is a tricky enough task on any given day. Besides the obvious self-critical murmurings of ‘is this worth writing about’, once you have an idea you then need to conjure your pen (or fingers) to create some magical syntax that relays your thoughts to the reader. How many hurdles…

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Appy Economics

That was is a pound that i was at your house in 1 of the most famous cancer certainly the one most houston straight up in the problems the multinational global village of international capital were here to stay and everybody’s studies economics to understand economics is hard to visual i cannot allusion discount to…

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‘The Empty House’

Open to the windswept world, Home of lost leaves And forgotten feathers. Faint whisperings of sound, Which may be mice, Or maybe smaller life, Or may be just the walls, Settling down to dust. Stagnant, still air, Turns the grime of years Into insipid icing, Distilling scents of solitude To assail the senses. Wood is…

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‘The Funeral’

A card came, summoning me to a funeral. The identity of the deceased was not supplied, so I was puzzled: I couldn’t recall any friends or family members having passed away lately and my boss had been in bellowing good health when I’d left work on Friday. Still, I felt compelled to go; and so,…

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How I Did It: ‘On Ninjas’

I don’t really know why I decided to write about ninjas–I knew about them in a general pop-culture way, like most people, but I hadn’t read up about or studied them in particular. I liked the fact that, as a subject, they were non-realistic, not part of everyday life. I also thought it would be…

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‘Apple picking’

Into the midnight of an apple tree, Arms aching over a crackle of ribs, I lift my son. He twists the fruit gently And breaks the stalk, shaking the withered twigs; I stoop as a rain of ripe shadows come down And the apple drops from his opened fist. It rolls among others on the…

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‘Communications Breakdown’

I was posting a letter to my mother to thank her for all the fish when I heard a woman’s voice. It seemed to be coming from the letterbox itself. ‘Get me out!’ it shouted. I looked around but there was no one there. Just me, the post box, the grassy verge. A cloudless sky….

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‘Five-Stars’

Nothing’s too much trouble for our stellar host – he bellows loud hellos from his front door before our car-bound feet disrupt his gravel. Call-me-Toby ushers us to his spongey lemon couch for a slice of just-baked drizzling lemon sponge cake. He plunges into freshly brewed fairly-traded coffee, pours into bone-china, places onto Badger’s Bottom…

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‘Camouflaged Beasts’

What you thought were autumn leaves herded against curb, spattered with bird shite, is an oil-slicked kitten that won’t be licked clean but continues to wander from the litter, tumble into a ditch and climb free, curious as sticking a fork in a socket, but camouflaged from predators like an owl feathered in sunflower yellow…

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‘Andromeda Unchained’

A day after the accident on my twentieth birthday I’m told I’ll never see him again. Stretched on a narrow bed, with my leg fractured in four places and braced neck, I clutch the hospital bill. That night I dream there are snakes in our garden. Six gunmetal-silver, eight-foot boa constrictors slink towards the glass…

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How I Did It: ‘Poem in which the girl has no door on her mouth’

In Anne Carson’s essay The Gender of Sound (from Glass, Irony and God, printed as Glass and God in the UK edition, and strangely omitting The Gender of Sound altogether) she writes of ‘…the haunting garrulity of the nymph Echo (daughter of Iambe in Athenian legend) who is described by Sophokles as “the girl with…

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How I Did It: ‘The Cattle Farmer’s Tale’

Imagination, being by definition un-willed, often comes in unexpectedly, the result of some chance encounter or coincidence. We can’t will ourselves into a genuinely imaginative space. We can work with what imagination provides – uncover the form, improve the syntax, work to complete the poem – but imagination itself is uncanny, unbiddable. Imagination always takes…

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‘The Garage, Tours’

As to what’s here, I can give you some idea: Various artifacts that Grammie brought back from the Philippines – probably one box                                                              All part of life’s rich tapestry. Shoes and clothing – probably at least two large boxes or equivalent                                                              You can tell a man by his shoes. Your Dad’s…

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‘Globalization Detritus’

Quivering pedal steel Green-winged dove Dilapidated keyboards from an ancient Commodore 64 Hendricks and tonic with a twist Failed expectations Dinner guests arriving early Maasai warrior with 3rd gen. iPhone Heavily-marketed ISIS You Tubes Traffic oceans on the 101 North Impossible bouts of insomnia Pre-planned pregnancies Unfortunate haircuts Hammond organs Cosmologist at his wit’s end…

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How I Did It: ‘On First Meeting Margot’

One Thursday afternoon in May 2014, I left my Poetry School class and headed to Waterloo for the train home. On Lower Marsh, I bumped into my friend Alice, who I had not seen for quite some time. With her was Margot, her small daughter whose father is a close friend of mine, the poet…

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How I Did It: ‘How to Renovate a Morris Minor’

I was having a conversation this week with a brilliant Welsh poet, who’s currently at work on his second collection. He said something about his creative process which resonated strongly with me: he was working hard, he said, to get to the stage where the poems wrote themselves. That’s always been it for me: the…

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‘Sex Education’

When I am asked what I most want to be when I grow up, I think about sex education: to my fourteen year old body hauling itself to the cafeteria, where Mister Jacobs takes the girls and plays film stills of mutts devouring meat outside a butcher’s. In the next room, the boys are handed…

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‘The Drowners’

They will step into you – first a toe, then the ball of a foot. Some will come clothed, though most will leave something behind – a tell-tale coat, a pair of shoes. They will make it seem easy, as if they are stepping into nightfall – not even you, nor the eye of a…

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‘Their letters’

 1st May 1610 Her letter is pressed from flour-damp breast to Judas-hand Joanna, hides in spinster folds to pass the Hall, makes its way first to lips then nose, Peter eager for the hard-worked scent of her, his Rose with lush, wide petals and soft sticky buds, last pinched and tipped on Hollyn Hill St…

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‘Marie Curie’s radium’

Don’t think you can leave me at the lab, locked in, safely far from your flat. Don’t think you can leave me in that rickety shed you stole from anatomists when even they didn’t want it. You shut me in with the white ghosts of skulls that are more space than matter. But I don’t…

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How I Did It: ‘Sow’

Like many of the poems in Black Country, it took a long time for ‘Sow’ to travel from its first notes to its final form.  It began as a scribbled note in my diary in May 2010. I was walking along Highgate Tube platform in a new pair of black boots and, hearing them trip-trapping,…

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‘Object Waiting’

    COMMENT Natasha Flaw (aka Natalie Shaw) features in Ink, Sweat & Tears, Antiphon, Butcher’s Dog and Prole, amongst others. She can also be found at http://natalieshawpoems.wordpress.com. ‘Object Waiting’ was written in response to Richard Osmond’s Open Workshop ‘Written in Juice of Lemon’, where students were challenged to write a poem designed to be published, broadcast…

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