Breath hisses like a burning log.
The cracked black wood burns red,
smouldering in a deep iron heart.
Too much air, it flares and flickers out.
Too little, it starves and we get cold ash.
But when the grate is open well enough
it breathes hot and constant.
Sometimes a blister, a spark, a crack.
Mostly nothing but silent, black heat
warming the room without display or cease.
Full use was made of the firelighters. Not so much the rest of it. Matthieu Ricard’s book would have given me much happiness in the form of blessed heat but it didn’t come to that.
The burner was one of those US Boxwood stoves. They look quite iconic and can fit a lot of wood inside. You leave the tray and flue open to get the fire going and then close the tray and twist the flue handle towards closed (horizontal) to keep the heat in the chamber and warm up the iron. It seems analogous to meditation somehow.
Love is not made here. There is no air, nor bread, nor beer.
It is doubly dark, which is to say that it has no colour.
It is doubly deep, having no need of a beginning.
It is doubly quiet, because I can hear myself.
You have brought me to a place that does not exist.
This land is dark and unsearchable. There is no water.
The air is not transparent, or else everything is.
What purpose is there in bringing me to a desert
so dry, where nothing can be found?
Hello! Guess what? I was shortlisted for the Live Canon International Poetry Competition again. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get over to Greenwich Theatre to hear the shortlisted poems performed but am chuffed to have my poem published in their new anthology. It’s a response to Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.
Returning to Woods on a Snowy Evening
Developers have sought permission for
much-needed housing. Many trees are gone.
Although I’ve rarely walked in them before,
these woods belong to me, if anyone.
My new coat covers something old in me,
a looker-at-birches who journeyed on.
Ice storms silver everything here but time.
Diggers crouch: eager to do and be done.
Trees are like flagpoles beside the road,
marking the quiet border of a ceasefire.
At 1 a.m., I’ve come out here to tread
down snow and put the freeze on my desire.
Love, in any language, can’t be understood.
The call’s been made, the council has agreed.
No one can say how dark, how deep this wood.
How long before suburbs become its seed.
The competition was won by Aileen La Tourette for ‘The Diving Horse’. Congratulations to Aileen and to all of the poets who shortlisted. As a competition that believes poetry should be read aloud, the Live Canon anthology will be alive with poems that crackle and sparkle in the ear. You can buy it from Amazon.
Who needs a skull grinning brightly on their desk
when an apple core moulders so quickly?
There’s no getting away from it. Leaves brown in the gutter.
Blue islands form archipelagos in the bread.
Walk through the cemetery. See how even gravestones,
our markers of impermanence, decay. Then see wild grass
rushing up their sides, fountains of columbine spilling
over in the last days of autumn. Breathe the air
moving silently between tall trees.