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Powers of the Air – A poem from Geoff Sawers

Powers of the Air

spirits of blood and vapour
clay wings
paper hearts
clockwork nightingales in drenched thorn scrub
belting silver showers of granite and grain

pike-toothed paths
comet-ice-hair and
phase-interrupted
so you step up but your body trails behind you
hooked to the shadow of a second to come

where there’s a flame
in your fingers
‘Hush’ on the jukebox
and all the poems you’ll never write because you won’t
drift curling like tender sparks into the night

I feel it
if only sometimes
furred on the inside
you don’t stop to listen that’s a fault but you
face forward to mirror the future your eyes are fins

from Sulhamstead at dusk
to Sheffield Lock
herons stiffen their spines
and all the books that you won’t start although you’ll live them
lie open in the grass for the stars to write

Geoff Sawers

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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.