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Two Poems by Kitty Hawkins

On Inadequate Road Resurfacing in Berkshire

i

The cherry blossom
is teetering, Addington’s
edges extending.

ii

Pavements: tentative
enduring, cautious trellis
molasses tarmac.

iii

Arthritic layers
lamenting, gnarled and buried
putrid ambience.

iv

A mountainous crown
compressing, cloaks of divots
rhythmically splinter.

~~

Happiest Woman in the World

It is unbearable to think about the snow
or unopened books.

It is unbearable to think alone
grit enclosing, I urge my eyes to run.

It is unbearable to think at all
muffled between desk and door.

People gather in Palmer Park.
I slump at the window, and repeat –

~~

Kitty Hawkins received two awards for her undergraduate poetry collection, Acoustics, at the University of Reading. In 2022 she won the ‘Magdalena Young Poets’ award, and her work can be found on https://www.seedlingpoets.com/. Kitty is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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What is Left of England? – A poem from Richard Stephenson

What is Left of England?

What is left of England?
January 878. Chippenham, midwinter.
The king has fled.
The people have no king.
The people have no country.

What is left of England?
But a dream of what used to be.

February 878. Somerset Marshes, winter,
The king is hiding.
The people are lost,
And the Vikings hold the country.

What is left of England,
cannot be found.

What is left of England?
April 878. Athney, early spring.
The king is plotting.
The people are stirring.
But the Viking holds the country.

What is left of England?
But an idea of what could be.

Whitsuntide 878. Egburt’s Stone.
The king returns to the people.
The people return to the king.
But the Vikings hold the country
Will the country fight the Viking?

What is left of England?
A dream a hope a belief.

May 878. Edington. Spring.
The people fight for the king.
The king fights for the people.
The Vikings flee the country.

What remains of England,
Is stronger than the sword.

~

Richard Stephenson runs the Dreading Poetry Slam under the name The Legend that is Richard Stephenson.
He took up poetry shortly after moving to Reading towards the end of the 20th century.
He works in London as an engineer and important middle manager.

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Meadow with flares – a poem by Rodney Wood

MEADOW WITH FLARES

 

A cappuccino at the old coffee house,

Caffè Florian in St. Marks Square,

even if it’s extravagant but there are

three musicians playing light classical,

the kitchen is ten minute walk away,

the art and décor are an experience

and waiters are at peace and professional.

 

This past year it’s not been possible

to get away, unless you’re a celebrity,

so I’ve been pretending I’m on holiday

when really I’m walking to the end

of the garden to leave banana skins

and coffee grounds in the compost bin.

It’s cheap, I don’t need a passport

and no heavy suitcases to lug around.

 

With an easing of the rules it’s almost

a return to old times on the Great Western

seated with cell phones and masked bank robbers

passing new extensions, different clothes

on washing lines, air that carries a new sort

of promise and not mutations of the virus.

 

At Reading station I have a flat white,

walk over Christchurch Bridge to Caversham,

find a bench and eat a ham sandwich.

Swifts wheel over the rowing club roof,

a falcon sits like a Buddha on a sycamore

on the other bank, geese make some noise,

four young women put on jumpers and share

a picnic on a tartan cloth, some older

folk on collapsible chairs drink glasses

of wine, one man is under a banner that reads

‘World Record Sitting Attempt’, a girl passes

with black flares and a camera, while dogs

seem generally puzzled at all the action.

My almost Homeric journey over I join

my neighbours who have decided to meet

and share cups of coffee and conversation.

A radio plays ‘Do What You Can’ by Bon Jovi

while Shelly nods her red hair and explains

to me how in 2020 the song raised over

$6 million in a benefit for his home town.

Peter, from across the road, takes pictures

 

‘To remind me of the flesh and gold of life

because maybe I won’t get another chance.’

 

~

Rodney Wood currently lives in Farnborough. He worked in Reading in the ’70s, his son currently lives there and he is a regular attendee of the monthly open mics at South Street.

 

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Tasting blackberries – a poem from Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Tasting blackberries

‘The best ones grow in shadow’
Margaret Atwood, Blackberries

~

Cycling to Heather Farm
I see blackberries gleaming in the sun
black spots and red spots
among avid spines,
the biggest and ripest ones recede in the deepest undergrowth –
they will feed blackbirds and sparrows
or melt in the mud.

I have no plastic bag or bowl
so I gather them in my surgical face mask,
collect quite a few
gobble up some,
their wild taste bursts black under my fingers.
I feel satiated by the little sweetness,
treasure their blackness
that absorbs the late summer sun.

I make off with my bundle of pitch-dark garnets –
furtive as I go.
Back home I simmer them in a pan with lemon juice and sugar
seal the jam in jars
with the label Gratefulness.

~

Carla Scarano D’Antonio lives in Surrey with her family. She obtained her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in various magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020 by Dempsey & Windle. She completed her PhD degree on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading and graduated in April 2021. http://carlascarano.blogspot.com/ http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/