Monday, 28 October 2013

A poem by Chaucer Cameron


I did not spend close evenings crouched up in candlelight, 
sifting through luxury layettes with chocolate picot trim.  
I did not crochet cardigans, sew anything by hand, 
pull draw-strings through hems, check catalogues for cashmere 
with merino woollen blend. I did not dream in sets
of a dozen muslin squares, bleached clean, starched flat, 
stacked tight inside deep drawers.

I did not keep you up at night. A lack of salt, desires for lettuce, 
coal, chalk were just imagination, Braxton Hicks contractions 
nothing more than dehydration, a lyric that repeats in loops 
                                                                                               un-break my heart.  

I filled my days, undistracted by elevated oestrogen 
or constant itching soles and palms, treated these 
as if they were like any other uninvited guest. 
Bribed by dandelion and burdock, yellow dock 
and beetroot, I drank,  
                                                                                               I entered talks,

negotiated landings, spoke fluent body language, 
practised flung back shoulders, uterus up and out
on show for just a moment. Then slow reversion 
to a stoop as daylight filtered into threads of navel pink 
and grey. Nine bands of soft reflection, sheened on skin, 
a glimpse, a thousand bony scutes. 

Chaucer Cameron has been published in a number of anthologies, the Quest Gallery Catalogue, Haigaonline, and had poetry and monologues performed at The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. Chaucer has worked collaboratively with a film maker to produce a thirty minute poetry film collection, There is Nothing in the Garden, which screened at Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2013 and at Gloucestershire University. Chaucer’s video poem, Sloat Thrit, was screened at the Arnolfini as part of Liberated Words II Poetry Film Festival 2013. More information: 

Monday, 21 October 2013

A poem by William Bedford

The Potato Gatherers
for my father

The potato gatherers were the ones,
Van Gogh faces in a Van Gogh barn,
where they slept upstairs after work,
or rested when they weren’t working.
‘They’re counting the harvest,’ 
your sister reckoned. ‘Or maybe praying.’
You thought they were witches,
chanting to fetch curses from the dark.

The Methodist minister said the same:
‘Decent folk don’t pray on their knees,
or out of doors, like cattle.’
From Manchester himself,
he often talked of cattle,
as though the farmers in the pews
would understand his parables better
if he used the language of herds.

The hens got mithered either way,
quacking at whoever stole their eggs
for the field workers breakfasts.
In a lane, you found a string of beads
and took them to the minister.
He said they were a curse
that would bring famine and pestilence, 
panic among the young women. 

Nothing much happened.
The potato gatherers went home
when the potato harvest was finished.
The minister was driven away by an aunt
who said she’d seen all this before,
he wasn’t a man made for loneliness.
The blacksmith put a new lock on the barn,
and the fields sank back into silence.

You walked with your sister to chapel,
harvest supper and then a dance.
You didn’t care for dancing. In a corner,
you ran the string of beads
between your fingers,
and they chattered like pebbles in the beck,
or the crows when you went crow-scaring,
humming a music nobody recognised. 

First published in Agenda

William Bedford's latest collection, Fen Dancing  is due out in Spring 2014 from Red Squirrel Press. Read about William Bedford HERE

Monday, 14 October 2013

A poem by Claire Trévien

After Rimbaud’s ‘Roman’

You can’t be serious when you’re twenty-one
-the evenings flare, a rolled joint behind your ear,
drunk on Wednesdays, university veteran!
You talk in your backyard of us all being queer.

The weed smells great on those June afternoons!
So sweet you could sleep through any exam;
the wind carries laughs, it’s humming a tune
older than you, Johnny Wright’s Hello Vietnam.

The sky is all yours, you spy it through brambles
palpitating like grass you would like to caress...
You think the answer’s there to be unscrambled
if only the stars stopped changing their address.

June nights! Twenty-one! Easy to be wasted.
The cheapest wine is as good as any champagne...
You ramble on about the Bourdieu you tasted,
your lips crumple like a socialist campaign.

You bildungsroman through books until
you spot a leading lady perched on a stool,
with the fruit machine lights pulsing her still
face red, green and blue. You think of Kabul.

She calls you a kid when you try to explain
-as her long nails trot gamely on the board-
why you are superior to her boyfriend,
but she leaves with her glass, looking bored.

You are in love: rented until August!
You are in love. She finds your poems laughable.
Your friends leave, your laundry starts to encrust
when at last, she responds to your madrigal!

That evening, you stroll out in the sun
you order a kiss or a ginger beer
you can’t be serious when you’re twenty-one
and there are summer evenings to premiere.

Published in The Shipwrecked House, Penned in the Margins 2013

Claire Trévien is an Anglo-Breton poet, writer and academic. Her first full collection, The Shipwrecked House, was published by Penned in the Margins in March 2013. It is longlisted for the Guardian’s Best First Book Award. Her poem ‘The Shipwrecked House II’ was highly commended in the 2013 Forward Prize.She is the editor of Sabotage Reviews, a website promoting independent presses. With Odette Toilette, she is the co-organizer of Penning Perfumes, a creative collaboration between poets and perfumers, for which she edited an anthology of poems. She co-edits the hybrid art magazine Verse Kraken with Tori Truslow.