When they die I truly live, 

inhibitors put in their place,

reveal the well wrapped, buttoned me.

The sunshine strip has sloughed 

the outer layers off,

factor eight, nine or ten

cannot protect from running blood.

Your distress, your unease,

is at honesty, not my disease.

What a dangerous globe it is

when minds are opened,

speak their truth.




Joint enterprises enfold wafting ways,

librae, solidi, denarii, 

the capital for window flights,

page serifs winging sacred texts,

grave accents marking hopes for bridge,

all under wraps, searching both 

for inner and 

for outer ways.


Yet every time the baby cries,

helpless gasp, infusing breath

we see a truth evading us,

relying on another love,

receiving gift, not on loan,

sealed when the bond

has made return.


First published at Eunoia Review




The ukulele, not best for Danny Boy,

means unaccompanied, we gravel to begin;

our chariot choir sings high and low,

though jointly note the middle range.


Despite harmonious melody,

the Dublin-born disputes the tune

is Londonderry Air, an Ulster name.

But with Guinness I have heard

plantation words alongside craic,

and Prot bars resound republican.

We warble words with the chorus girls,

a hurting leg, Jack’s grunt refrain.


Out the door, politics; here we laugh 

at wheelchair three point-turn or six

in this space, confined, it’s like

our repartee, the discourse of humanity,

Areopagus of fun.


Kim, the crochet girl has brought a bag

of kitchenalia to identify.

This largely plastic crowded tray

whets few appetites today.


With glove stretchers, I had never need

of tongs to empty sauce sachets,

or the mango stone remover,

the sandwich cutter which prevents 

squashed jam seeping from bread edges.

Yesterday sachets and mangoes 

were not in the scullery, 

or indeed between my teeth, 

while butter or jam were choice,

and crustiness, grandpa’s trait,

an ingredient of life.


Because the baby has been born

half-knit blue cardigan

has sleeves now turning pink;

desultory chair exercise

brings the needles overhead.


This group, hive christened,

and we its bees;

some come from ever-silent rooms

and travel here without sound,

broken-winged, as if the sting

already taken from our tale.


Once my thought-question

slipped from lips;

it might have searched opinions,

we could have shared spoken debate,

we might have made a meal of it.

But when the leader googles phone,

the answer served on a plate,

then beehive becomes an igloo still,

snake-charmer’s basket on its head,

and honey comb cannot mature.


The yellow high-viz jacket wears

a button hole, woollen daffodil,

but insists it to be a crocus flower.

In stitches

he offers me its curling bloom to smell;

we are back to buzzing

and that perfume claims the room.


First published at Eunoia Review


Following the Grain


The speckled path traces a line

on which patina time will mark.


A clock that chimed important hours,

observing prayers and reading page; 

from clammy palms timidly stretched

for reading creases, forward years.


A pared wood cup sweat globule-dripped,

then swirled with mead drained servant poured;

silver, planished, the hand-made sign,

left marks from hall, and sterling wine.


Apprentice piece, held journeyman,

a proof of travel with the joints;

two drawers matched stored marriage wraps,

their waist-let prompting wedding banns. 


A cradle rocked white knuckled hands

to dampen cries of father, child; 

a beam above smoke inglenook,

hot conversations with less light.


The treasure chest of daughter’s curl,

unlocked, but key of memory; 

a truckle bed rolled out of site

that caked boots trod mud, bakers punched.


A varnish of flight pheromones,

more tears, some blood, flaked skin, hut dust, 

capped steam from pots, seepage from pores;

ingrained, embedded, history sealed.


First published in From the Edge magazine


Stephen Kingsnorth, (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by a dozen on-line poetry sites, and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader & Foxtrot Uniform Poetry Magazines.



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