Literary Yard

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‘Fizzled’ and other poems by Stephen Kingsnorth

By: Stephen Kingsnorth


The flame fizzled from first light,
the history book at my finger tips:
the roar red brand – a claimant mark –
reminder where we had first met,
now on my hand as hers had been,
as if reluctant palms to read,
pressing tight, to hide the crease.

Should I stick or should I twist –
though that fizz long drained away –
continue in this current hold?
A pontoon to those early days,
even then unstable reach
rocked by waves, the lunar tides,
then unwelcome coming swell.

It started with the agency
of predicted match, suitability,
pairing, peeling layers of pretence,
her expectation, my tomorrow fears.
Hemmed by what would come to be,
straining bare insufficient thread,
smoke clouding sight, stinging eyes.

The tears through time rent the seam,
false gold revealed, no precious lode,
the stars had gone, attractions fade.
Drawing deep, sucking long,
to turn the smoulder into burn,
I flicked my handy pocket flap,
returned the matchbook to its home.



The thrill of holiday suspends,
at seven age, when trundling train
tracks flimsy girders, river bridge,
at slower speed, for driver knows
his belching monster grinding line
may crack the rails, so carriage fall
with luggage, family and me,
deposit in the muddy swirl,
a fortnight, sediment, to crawl.

The others chatter as before,
the clatter tells they know full well
our destiny – don’t scare the boy.
I, wishing back near home turf hedge,
have little care for seaside sand,
the hut below the fall of slopes,
kiddles, mud inter-tidal boat,
still less for journey platform break
awaiting us at Grandma’s home.

And then I hear we gain some speed,
soon rhythm over sleepers flies
and suddenly my scenes are back.
The river’s gone, the rattles left,
now stony beach, the island mist,
our backs to groynes against the wind,
the Street, the shells, the oyster smells.
The next, the dread of our return,
the chugging through suspended hell.


Water Pot

Classy culture clash five decades,
semi-centennial, half a
century on,
as white-skin western flyers
carry brown-skin Bengali peasant
earthenware to Assamese
custom men.

Potted tea patriot perhaps
but water jar, no sip, no spit,
incongrual for them, ill-fit,
no word, untrained,
no script.

In training, we, safe,
sterilised, cool, station

Respectful, staring neck,
they darkness see, and
swirling, listening, they
swirl hear.

This not pot they smuggle fear,
our logic clear,

But none affording fare for air
has water pot. None owning
earthenware has costs
to fly.

We, respectful too, smile, take drink, offer
them the same; dilemma solved,
honour satisfied. Foothills


Harpoon to Gunwale
(Reflecting on Painting: Christ Preaching from a Boat)

Inside the four establishment walls
they had harried and harped on,
intending to harpoon.

But now from the four points
come to this open space,

The disciple crew
push out the boat,
generosity for the crowds,
as they might, for a stranger in distress
have lifted a broken cart,
or pushed a car that’s broken down,
buying a round of encounters
with their man who was the focus.

He brings tidings, causes ripples, rocks,
as, pushing their way to him,
these sea sick touch.

And, in the lap of the gods
folk fall and scream.

Amongst waves these extending crowds
encompassing the region
are as Palestinian cruise crews.


Dust Jackets

I see the dust around my books,
themselves the source of gold
through long years mined.

But when sun beams illuminate the room
they reveal the floating soup of flecks
which all day engulf my face –
a broth by mouth,
food absorbed unawares
as from my volumes through the years –
but too there’s mote in orb,
unnoticed as I,
beaming, see the log in pupil’s eye.

I wear those tomes,
their jackets mine through the colder hours,
my baked potatoes when peeling tough,
my stag leather larvae when nightmare rough,
but so with dust,
my sugared cake when needing sweet,
my bowl and towel when wash for feet,
my auric sonshine, clearer sight.


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