Midwinter Poem by Lisa Rossetti

Global Sacrifice

 

The sky is full of blood;

the moon a dirty fingernail.

We hear the roar of the Wolf,

hide our children in the dark –

we cannot find the magic

to save them from the madness.

Horror eclipses our lives;

in the cauldron of Hecate

our flesh melts like silver.
Lisa Rossetti

 

 hecate

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Two Poems by Seán Body

Let This Be The Day

(for Ruth on the birth of baby, Iris)

 

I wake to birds:

winged alleluias weaving light;

east to west a golden Sanskrit.

 

Let this be the day

long foreshadowed

snatched back;  the day

obdurate hope triumphs.

 

My bare-knuckle bruiser

let this be the day

your long voyage tumbles

into light;  starved eyes smile

and lives that seeped away

bring you wriggling to me.

 

Let this be the day.

 

When pain overwhelms

let me be reborn

mother:

those claiming fingers

soft as swansdown

their forever hold.

 

Let this be the day

joy breaks my heart;

but oh

how it sings!

Iris_germanica_(Purple_bearded_Iris),_Wakehurst_Place,_UK_-_Diliff

Iris — One Year Old

 

You open doors on wonder

let light flood in: a conjuror

amazed by your own skill.

 

On your back you griddle-dance

babble epics;

roll over, skitter-crawl.

 

But standing’s more fun:

you rifle hidey-holes;

bum-dive, release laughter.

 

Little usurper

you make all things yours.

Teach us

 

to see through your eyes

be ever in the moment;

let your energy restore us.

 

Together we sail seas of mystery

find new lands

invent tongues.

 

Now you gift your open arms

laughing, toss them

to the sun-blind sky;

 

let fall a shower of Iris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem by Ian M Parr

“Folfar” 

 They call it “folfar”. Rare this far north it’s said.
An image displayed
conspicuously upon the village noticeboard
meant for eyes grazing
through minutes of the parish council,
for WI and other local information.

Leafless, its petals appear foliated.
It seems a fuss, nowadays.
Such an otherwise dull flower,
unrecognised, insignificant its dipping head
spread amongst enduring grasses;
remnant of long outdated farming ways;
commonly called “Snake’s head fritillary ”
from something of its shape,
descriptive enough for my imagination.
But how names can change our perception!

Once written “folfar” lives along with Wheaton Aston
growing from my right hand forever.
As I hold the pen, propel these lines along the paper –
a grey flower writing another song.

Ian M Parr

From The Poetry of Staffordshire;
Offa’s Press 2015

 

Folfar Erddig April 2017

Two Poems by Sally Evans

At Briggflatts Meeting House

Inside History

Small hall built like a ship
in the heyday of wooden ships,
panelling, banisters held firm
by master workmanship no longer known
fired by the need to float a country’s sons
rails and galleries, staircase, gates,
boxed seating, open seating,
pillars and pews all carpentered,
reliant on the strength of oak
that lasts and lasts through centuries.
A stone-clad hideout under fells
no government could better,
bids us board this ship of time,
come inside history.


At Basil Bunting’s grave

Beneath the rising brae
by that great sycamore
that marks a boundary’s
reason it is there,
some ten feet steep
to base of copper beech,
as dark as leaves will go,
touching red in nature,
where old, matched, simple stones
step down among wild flowers,
sorrell and bluebell, grasses
cover the bones that sleep,
and look, a tree of words
grows from the poet’s feet.

 

brigflatts

Christmas Poem by John Calvert

RICCARTON CAROL
Before the evening, snow will fall again
Across cold Arnton Fell will rise a star
From the last train,few passengers remain
To wait the opening of the tiny bar
Down from the hill , the shepherd and his dog
Around the curve of line , sheep lift their heads
Foresters by Steele Road cut one last log
Now junction children sleepless in their beds
As low moon steals across white sheeted land
Soon owls will call from spruce plantations cold
A locomotives breath-a burning brand
As evening stars the lines cord into cold

A train creeps up, its prescence like a prayer
Steaming a blessing on the fell -frost air.

steam-train_60163_staplehurst211209

Poem by Julia McGuinness

At Port Sunlight

The houses are gracious here, hold

respectful distance from the road;

sentinelled with chimneys, grass-locked

islands of secrets, packaged in blocks.

But how these old-timers can talk!

 

Hear them argue their origins,

old friends animated over a pint:

half-timbered assertions of Evolution:

a village that rose from the swamp;

red-bricked insistence on Creation:

an orderly paradise forged by design.

 

Their eaves breathe profit and palm oil

from vats that boil, seeping into scent

of hyacinths, bleached and lined in beds.

Ghost echoes criss-cross their walls:

clop of hooves on stone: The Master rides,

warmed by ‘his’ children’s laughter.

 

Their world was simple as soap and water,

towelled in timetables, welfare and faith

in the pure march of progress.

But the air flicks a tear: for five hundred

once sheltered, lost in Flanders fields.

Silence as you face them then

 

their glassy stare turns to cottage charm.

Sedate, they pose, all Mona Lisa smiles,

scrubbed fronts in the sunlight;

backyard, residents tidied from sight:

model village.

 

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Poem by John Calvert

 

 

 

Helsby Hill profileTHE OLD MAN OF HELSBY HILL

Who punched me on the nose
To spite my face?
Broken, I blink down lines of sun
I stiffen my profile

I sniff the sea
Stanlow”s sweel, Fiddlers Ferry fumes
My powers are older
Outliving the fossil
In my Devonian bone

I felt the legions
Yomp over my back
Saw the plodding saltsters hooves
Then the traffic”s tinnitus
Hissed towards the coast

Some pause in my shadow
For burgers, for unleaded
In artics or hatchbacks
They glint out of time
I set into stone

Rain sands me down
Energy to entropy
Eras slip from my grasp
My face will come and go
See me in this light

John Calvert

Poem by Angela Topping, for Valentine’s Day

Glove

Because I love you, I offer you
this old glove.
Wait. Do not cast it
aside. It has held my hand.
Its soft felt embraced my fingers,
covered my palm.
Its partner is lost.
Take it to remind you, how you and I
could lose each other.
It fits me perfectly.
Keep it under your pillow.
Perhaps it will
reach for you in the night.

 

Note: WordPress does not like the indentations in this poem, so it’s lost its shape. It was first published in my collection I Sing of Bricks (Salt 2011). I think of it as slightly spooky but others see it differently, which is fine. Maria Walker made some art using this poem and the remaining glove.

Seasonal Poem by Sean Body

NATIVITY
why is this night different from all others

as if the stillness conjures it
or some unacknowledged loss

an ancient voice deep and sonorous
somewhere between question and affirmation

why is this night

a wrong note harmony
so right it silences

rising in the bone, the hulk, the killing field
fills the night with forgiveness

why is this night different

because promises were made
and seen to be kept

the blood of the lamb barring death
from the dwellings of Jews

dressed for a journey–

by Oświęcim’s abandoned track
how still the candles flame

a choir of exclamations
singular as stars

why is this night different from all others

answers with its repetition

an ineluctable why
rends the still air with lamentation

wonder

in the mind a place for wings
Seán Body
From Shouldering Back the Day (Lapwing 2013)

Christmas Story by Angi Holden

Distressed Fairy

I admit to being a touch smug. When the assistant reached for the carrier bag and whispered to her colleague that my purchaser was ‘that world famous artist, you know the one, always in the papers’ I began to feel that the weeks of cardboard cartons and stockrooms and shelving displays had been worth it after all.
Expectation is an interesting thing, don’t you think? Christmas is always a time for anticipation, for children and adults alike to speculate what might be in those brightly wrapped and beribboned packages. Who of you can resist the temptation to pick up a gift from under the tree, to squeeze it or shake it in some attempt to guess its contents? For most of us it’s the reverse, of course. Every gift is wondering what it’s like on the outside of the paper: who will unwrap us and whether we’ll be appreciated by our new owner.
And for Christmas Tree Fairies, it’s a slightly different experience. We’ve been specifically chosen by our new owners. We know we are wanted. More than that, we know we are so valued that we’ll be in pride of place, at the very pinnacle of the festive decorations. As we are jostled from hand to hand, swung along the streets in our John Lewis carrier bags, our anticipation is one of geography and scale. Will we be part of the welcoming party, watching the guests shed their worsted and cashmere as they transform into dinner suited, silk-gowned social butterflies? Or will we be in the heart of the action in a busy living room, surrounded by family and friends exchanging perfume and jewellery, books and CDs and leather wallets. Will our tree be massive, but in a draughty hall? Will our tree be small, but ideally placed to observe the lingering kiss, the hand held a moment longer than entirely necessary?
One thing I was certain of was style. I had been chosen by a world famous artist, so I was assured of that at least. My new home would be chic, impressive, on trend. The rooms would be filled by with guests of culture and sophistication. I would listen to articulate conversation, eavesdrop on intellectual debate and genteel gossip. It would be magnificent.

So the workroom came, as you might imagine, as something of a surprise. I was unfamiliar with the term ‘grunge’. And not a little alarmed by the sight of several craft knives and what appeared to be a cheese grater. My artist lifted some bottles from the shelf: bleach, pva glue, Indian ink. And then she slid those graceful, slender hands into a pair of rubber gloves and reached out for me. The delicately stitched layers of my net skirts offered little resistance, surrendering easily to each cut and tear. I wept at the sound of fabric ripping. I thought for a moment that she intended to unplait my hair; a cloud of pre-Raphaelite curls would perhaps have been bearable. But instead she dislodged a number of my blonde strands with a crochet hook, before running them between ink-blackened tissue. She left me on the workbench to dry whilst she answered the phone.
‘Yes,’ she said, pulling off her gloves as she spoke. ‘I’m doing it now.’ She reached out and touched a sketch that was pinned by one corner to a board above her desk. The paper was creased, as if it had been folded into an envelope. The artist ran her fingers across the lines of a delicate fairy. The creature’s dress was torn and shabby, her hair tangled and matted, her face dirty. She had lost her shoes, and her stockings were snagged and laddered. Even her wings were tattered, as if she would never fly again. But for all that, her eyes were shining.
The artist returned to the workbench. It wasn’t quite the kind of anticipation I’d had in mind; I knew what was coming.

So here we are, a few days before Christmas. The tree stands by the picture window, its decorations not the haphazard accumulation of years of baubles and plastic icicles or the stylish red and gold arrangements that you see in magazines. There are fairy lights, but they are faint and uncoloured. The branches are draped in wool fibres, off-white, grey and black – as if they’ve been gathered from a mountain hedgerow – and caught in among the strands are tiny silver stars.
Wired to the top of my tree, looking for all the world as though I’ve been pulled through that same hedgerow, I gaze out over the minimalist room. There is little besides the tree to suggest Christmas. A pair of heavy silver candlesticks on the mantle shelf hold fat white candles. Five white roses in a glass vase are supported by twigs of holly. A roaring fire in the grate warms the room.
I hear a key in the front door, the creak and clunk as it swings open and slams shut.
‘I’m home!’ a voice calls and I hear the thunder of footsteps down the staircase. There is a furry of conversation – how was your journey? are you hungry? get yourself warm by the fire – and then they come into the lounge. The girl is still shrugging off her backpack and coat when she sees the tree. She pauses for a moment before dumping her things on the floor. She gazes up at me with the wonder of a small child.
‘Mum, she’s beautiful,’ she says. ‘She’s exactly as I imagined.’
The artist gathers the girl into her arms and kisses her lightly on the head. She is brimful, holding back tears.
Like the fairy in the sketch, I’m sure my eyes are shining.

Note: This came from our Christmas workshop session led by Angela Topping and Rosie Topping.
The image is included by kind permission of Helen Ivory, poet and artist.

CrowAngel_1959Web-238x300

http://www.helenivory.co.uk/

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