Just like that cardigan you wore, it shaped itself to your very being. How is it that an old thing can carry so much of a person? The handle, worn smooth as stone, somehow warm where your strong hands held fast. This spade, the remnants of the dirt you lifted, holds something of you.
I say your name quietly; in dark purple blooms not named by any botanist.
The theme is …
This is where I duck out; the moon’s too big for just one person.
Give me a tiny moonstone to write about, or better still, a moon shaped stone that fits upon my palm.
Like the stone I took away from the shore the day I gave an urn of ashes to the sea: a trade that, like the tide, keeps returning you to me.
Neil Elder’s full collection The Space Between Us won the Cinnamon Press Debut Prize, and his Codes of Conduct won their pamphlet prize. This year he has a pamphlet Like This appearing with 4Words Press. He occasionally blogs at https://neilelderpoetry.wordpress.com/
It was what he did when we went away for the day, made up sandwiches, egg, cold bacon. If we were being posh – salmon, a little bit of salad, lettuce, tomato, cucumber. It did not matter how far we were going, he took a kettle – a stove – the kitchen sink, everything so that we wouldn’t have to go in somewhere and pay exorbitant prices. We watched the fun, his excitement as he tried to light a Primus stove, in the wind and out in the rain, to make a cup of tea. Get a rug out of the car, spread over the wet grass, determined we would enjoy a picnic, despite dampness creeping up his legs as he handed us our treats.
in this summer brightness I am a pup again with Dad outside the garden shed as he saws to fix a step for me to mount the rocking horse whose head he crafted in the shed at his vice whose eye he painted and whose reins made of ribboned cord hang loose for me the mane an old brown carpet strip I watched him tack with care and did not dare to say I hated how it felt to me like cotton wool in Aspirin shiver and baking in the sun I shiver as if the future had come shadowed and adult he smiles at my impatience holds out his hand and I step up to his step
in the hut are his drawer of sharpened chisels the carefully adjusted planes the line of lasts from father down to me leather wax and thread for him to repair shoes I wear happily strike sparks from segs click click my way into today.
The Hut was first published in Brantwood, Cinnamon Press, 2019
George Colkitto writes for the pleasure of words. Recent publications are two poetry collections from Diehard Press, The Year of the Loch and Waitin tae meet wie the Deil and a pamphlet from Cinnamon Press, Brantwood, that place of Little Green Poems.
He knows the place, the crop between the shallow hills, at the parting of a cart track or on a cliff’s narrow ledge. Each journey has a cost.
Barbed wire, brambles, a horsefly’s sting, his arms threaded with scarlet, the juice of sloes, wild damsons, plum, blood, his white hair invaded by leaves and burrs. This is his lot.
Once, upended by a stile and full length upon the grass, he found an orchid. A tiny slip of a thing, and never said a word. Others have tried to follow him on his wild scramblings, searched the fields at dawn but found nothing.
He knows the source, the lip of a well, buried beneath nettles, a chapel felled into a wood where he eats his lunch, back against the wind. He sees ghosts, but never marks them on his map.
This is a time before satellites, when people found their way through the world by marking it, pushing through waist high in bracken. He pushes on and down into the valley where the green covers his head like the sea.
First published in A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo, Cinnamon Press 2012
Louise Warren was born and grew up in the West Country and now lives in London. Her first collection A Child’s Last Picture of the Zoo won the Cinnamon Press debut poetry competition and was published in 2012. A pamphlet, In thescullery with John Keats, also published by Cinnamon, came out in 2016. Her poems have been widely published in magazines including Ambit, The Butchers Dog, Stand, Poetry Wales and Rialto. In 2018 she won first prize in the Prole Laureate Poetry Competition with her poem The Marshes which appears in her new pamphlet, John Dust, illustrated by the artist John Duffin and published in 2019 by V.Press.
Louise writes that “He was very much a west countryman and worked as a Surveyor for the Ordnance Survey, a job he loved … his love of the outdoors is evident in this poem.” She has very happy memories of her father, whose birthday was on 17 April. Good Dadhood has pleasure in celebrating it with Louise here today.
You will probably say we were in no danger at all –
they would have missed us and launched the lifeboat from its station,
but I can tell you the waves were the height of a bus
and if there was no risk of drowning it was a pretty good imitation.
And perhaps that narrow path up Cnicht was perfectly safe,
in regular use by hikers and even herds of cows,
but I know I was less than a foot’s breadth from a precipice,
and so terrified I could only freeze
and I’m grateful for these fear-etched memories to my daring father –
these mind-scenes set for reading and dreams:
deep sea, honey of clutched clumps of heather.
My Father’s Bear
Your lead model bear stands on my desk
in a space among pencils, chargers, staples and stamps
and when I try to arrange things in an orderly way
I respect his place beside a green glass paperweight
under the lamp, and feel his displeasure if I tip him over
which is easy to do as he stands upright, on small hind paws.
Home from the army, you took Bear from your pocket
placed him on the pub table like a small portable comrade
and said to my mother and me, ‘Let’s give Bear a drink’
your tankard angled to the leaden lips
of the little figure like a Roman household god
dug up from some once-dangerous outpost of empire.
I’d like a museum to display Bear some day
part of this British soldier’s personal kit
alongside mess tin, forage cap and Sam Browne belt.
But maybe I am wrong about all this. Maybe
that business with the bear was your kindness
to a jealous little daughter you’d hardly met.
Published in Pennine Platform
Sarah Watkinson has been writing and studying poetry since 2012 after a scientific career in plant biology. Her work has appeared in UK anthologies and magazines including Antiphon, Litmus, Pennine Platform, The Rialto and the Morning Star, and has been successful in several competitions. ‘Dung Beetles Navigate by Starlight’, her debut pamphlet, was a winner in the 2017 Cinnamon Pamphlet competition.