Two poems by Mat Riches

Shed Door

Paint kettles and brushes dried solid
next to bags of nails, extension cords and screwdriver sets.
Pushed to the back and gummed in the works,
mixed in with a video recorder minus its flex.

A silenced orchestra of saws up on hooks, and
strings holding up Olympic rings of masking tape.
Each chisel nestled in its own guard and box;
waiting to chip through, and step up to the plate.

No recordings exist of the swearing and banged fingers;
caught up in the debate betwixt or between
the precision of hand drills, the silence of clamps
or the power tools’ arguments for speed.

I don’t want to open it a single micron
for fear of letting out a millilitre of your breath
stuck in jam-jars of screws, mixed in the marrow
in the bones of a mouse caught in the cobwebs.

Palm Reading

We followed the sweep of his hands,
the one with the missing fingertip.
“There are not enough apprentices.” He said,
as my brother and I helped with
the bricks and mortar of the conservatory,
watching as he chiselled a lock in a door.
“Not enough trades to go around”.

The fingers as strong as arms
from a billion tight corners and hammers.
Neither of us fit to follow,
having chosen the bars or codes
of custodians or marketing;
the swivel chair over the bevelled edge.

Helping people with choice, or
gauging the plumb line of public opinion.
Prediction may be our game and
protection our bread and butter,
but those hands; they built our future.


Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent, but will always have Norfolk in his heart. He is a father to Florence and a husband to Rachael, and by day he is a mild-mannered researcher in the TV industry. He has previously been published in And Other Poems, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Snakeskin Press. He is a recent graduate of The Poetry School’s Lyric iPod course. He is about yea high.
Blog: Twitter: @matriches