The Chalk Path – poetry PDF

The Chalk Path - front cover

My latest poetry pamphlet is now available as a free PDF. In The Chalk Path, Joe, Hugh, and myself turn our attention landward from the coast. The poems are drawn from walks over chalk downs, train rides beside white horses etched into hillsides and, in contrast, the bright red sandstone of my Mercian homelands.

Read it online

You can read The Chalk Path here. Please share it with your friends if you enjoy it.

Here’s one of mine from the collection:

PILGRIMAGE OVER CLENT

Red soil. Brown grass. White sky.
A glimpse of Harry-Ca-Nab,
the devil’s hunting man. Keep running.
Through mudbeds of slipping-danger.
Through the place of martyrs, St. Kenelm’s.
Here’s one known to me. I bow my head before
climbing into the cradle of these hills.

At St. Leonard’s, further along Kenelm’s pass,
I find the grave of Eliza Baylie,
unknown to me, her woven cross
symmetrical, upright, organic stone.
The good we’ve wrought becomes nature.
Chapel, trees, and stones are buried in fog.
Eliza’s cross marks the beginning of a hill
we once measured in bpm,
ears pounding with the body’s song,
where my heart stops me again.

Geese creak in the mist above.
Clouds curdle as they’re raked
like ghosts through evergreens. Rain thickens.
Ca-Nab’s hounds are close. Keep running.
Over the rise, leaving a pattern but no prints.
Carry the poem. Kiss the soil with each foot.
Let the hill carry you home.

 

Blurb

An experiential exploration of movement within the landscape, taking you beyond maps to the cries of buzzards, the feeling of chalk dust on fingers, and the glimpse of a white horse.

As always, the cover painting is by Hugh.

You can also read our previous poetry pamphlets in PDF form: The Inner Sea and The Tide Clock.

All feedback welcome in the comments or to mark@markdcooper.com.

Dharma Dudes: No Thyself

Dharma Dudes - No Thyself

I haven’t had much spare time lately what with work, moving house, and spending time with the kids. It’s been busy, exciting, rewarding and all that. Did I mention busy? But a couple of weeks ago I felt the unexpected urge to sketch some comic strips about meditation and related issues. Here’s the first, there may be others to follow.

Poems in Urthona & Live Canon

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I’ve had some poems published recently, including three in Urthona: Buddhism & the Arts. It’s a great magazine if you’re into Buddhism, meditation, and literature. Here’s ‘Waiting for Al-Khidr’ from the magazine. Also in the issue are ‘The Pearl’ and ‘How I Became a Prophet’. It’s the current issue so consider subscribing if you’re interested to read them.

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‘The Cord’ appeared in Live Canon‘s New Poems for Christmas anthology.


 

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‘Labyrinth’ appeared in Live Canon‘s 2015 competition anthology. See their publishing back catalogue here.

 

The Chalk Path

The Chalk Path - front cover

Joe, Hugh, and I are publishing our third shared poetry pamphlet very soon. Our hope is to have it coincide with the Chalk arts and literary festival in Winchester, which starts on Saturday.

The Chalk Path is the final instalment in our trilogy of pamphlets, which began with The Inner Sea in 2012. Earlier this year we published, The Tide Clock. Publishing a shared collection is a great way for poets to collaborate on a project, experiment with the format, and inspire each other. You can also benefit from exposure to each other’s audiences.

While The Inner Sea began our journey at the ocean, and The Tide Clock continued our journey to the fringe of land and sea, The Chalk Path concludes our odyssey inland, drawing on chalk hills and paths known to us, as well as themes of blankness and absence. The cover painting of Danebury Ring is another by multi-talented Hugh.

Where we might go from here is an open question. The trio of pamphlets seems complete, at least for now, and we may concentrate on publishing independently, or collaborating in a different format.

Blurb

An experiential exploration of movement within the landscape, taking you beyond maps to the cries of buzzards, the feeling of chalk dust on fingers and the glimpse of a white horse.

Contents

Joe Franklin

If You Fall In You Will Be Walking Home
Urban Bee Keeping
Dongas
Living With a Writer
The Chalk Path
Fernhurst

Hugh Greasley

Tap Water
Native Habitat
Rendzinia
Sunrise
Skin
Water Tasting
Whetstone

Mark Cooper

Chalk
Golden Cap
Garden of Opposites
The Lady of the Lake
Teething
Snow Buddha

Preview

Here’s one of mine from The Chalk Path:

GOLDEN CAP

Golden Cap is less brilliant now,
greenery mars its white pyramid, a sign
of climate change, or that our names for things
barely touch the things themselves.

We’ve always been walking this chalk path
and yet we take a Saturday out of the rush
of making our life the way we want it
before it’s over just to live. Just to feel
our footprints on the chalk, this blank grit.
The path we started on, an unfinished thread,
depends on billions of long-dead coccoliths
too small and short-lived to have ideas about living
yet they’ve shaped the land. Shy ammonites
also lie buried in this blank necropolis,
breaking free during an occasional storm.
Whether or not they ever came out of themselves
during their turbulent lives, they’re still here,
solid enough to walk on. It’s we who are ghosts.

 

The importance of imagination

The world seems apt to give rise to stories and images. Such imaginings may be the product of our minds, but our minds are nonetheless part of the world and shaped by it. Imagination is a dialogue with the world, and a feature of it. To conceive of reality only in terms of the barest facts is to commit two errors: to overlook the role imagination plays in constructing our worldview; and to neglect the richness of possibility so readily explored when we indulge imagination.

Perseus’ Flight

Gustave_Moreau_-_Perseus_and_Andromeda_1870
Gustave Moreau – Perseus and Andromeda. 1870.

Perseus’ Flight

Medusa’s murdered head drips blood into the sea.
Curls twitch. Her filthy mane, dead but possessed by hate,
disgorges poison through my grip. Even the white
waves thundering below, Neptune’s loose cavalry,

no longer gallop beneath winged shoes. They’re petrified
by curdled Gorgon’s blood, gold calderas where
volcanoes rise out of the sea. Their liquid fire
cascades above the scab-like rocks. Here blood has dried,

becoming land; steam rises from the ground,
spitting like snakes. I’m drained by this unnatural flight,
adrenaline still quivers in my legs. Red light
collides with clouds and grass, the sky is crowned

with an embarrassed glow. I find beauty. Further West,
bright particles of fire imbue the soil with strange
properties. Golden fruit hangs in the giant’s grange.
Clouds stretch like gauze across a lover’s crimson chest.

 

 

 

The Tide Clock proof has arrived

The new poetry pamphlet I’ve been working on with Hugh Greasley and Joe Franklin has arrived in proof form. There are a couple of minor errors to be fixed: I didn’t leave enough room between the bleed and the page margin on the cover, for one thing. These should now be resolved and I’ve put the order in for the first printing.

The cover art is Paziols Morning by Hugh. Check out more of his art at hughgreasley.co.uk.

Get in touch if you’d like me to post you one!

The Tide Clock proof

The Tide Clock - Mark's poems

Really looking

I attended a mindfulness meditation retreat a couple of weeks ago. As I lay on my back forming an intention not to prod the meditator below me with my foot again, some writing on the rafters caught my eye:

A work of art can only be comprehended by looking at it and no description is a substitute for this.

— Gervase of Canterbury, c. 1141–1210.

That seemed like a pretty good definition to me.