Derrick Buttress

Derrick Buttress: Featured Poet

Reading The Weather

The auspices are uncertain,
rain threatens in the east –
a bit black over Bill’s mother’s
as they say in these parts –
although sunlight creeps in
from the west in spite
of the banks of cloud.

We can take nothing for granted here
even the seasons have stalled,
the summer’s swifts still circling the house,
the annuals reluctant to fade –
picnics in October, and thickening grass.

We forget the earth is alive beneath our feet,
will not die or even rest
according to the clocks we make.
Prediction is a lost art.

Put two and two together
and we get nothing but conjecture, at best,
the chance that chaos
was all the time the answer.

Although there’s always hope,
like seeing the rain, drifting now
from the east, falling on Bill’s mother’s
as we guessed it would.

Published in ‘Destinations’, Shoestring Press, 2009


Derrick Buttress was born in Nottingham in 1932. After many years in industry he read English at York University. His poems have been published widely in magazines, including Magma, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House and Iota. Two television plays were produced by BBC 2 and several radio plays were broadcast by BBC Radio 4. His poetry collections are: Waiting For the Invasion (Shoestring) 2002; My Life As A Minor Character (Shoestring) 2005; Destinations (Shoestring 2009). A Memoir, Broxtowe Boy was published in 2004, also by Shoestring. Its sequel, Music While You Work, was published by Shoestring Press in 2007.

4 thoughts on “Derrick Buttress: Featured Poet”

  1. Hello Derrick. This is the first poem I’ve read of yours. I was immediately drawn to the title because I’m from Prince Edward Island, Canada where the weather is ALWAYS the first topic of conversation. And the next thing I saw (which made me smile) was the bit about Bill’s Mother. I have just found (and read) your “The Running Boy” in the latest issue of “The New Writer” – another excellent poem which pulls no punches about how tough childhood can be.

  2. A really beautiful poem. And reading the profile has cheered me up no end – it’s never too late to start. Thanks for this post.


  3. This is a great poem – I’ve just really enjoyed reading it. I love the ‘bit black over Bill’s mother’ and the mystery surrounding it. It reminded me of my own mum and some of the Yorkshire sayings she would come out with – you didn’t really need to know exactly what they meant but you could see the imagery.

    I like the weather ‘signs’ in this poem. The down to earth feel of it, the instinctive awareness of something which we so often seem to have lost with modern technology putting it on a plate for us. It reminds me of my childhood and my gardener dad who when I said it was going to rain would look at the sky and say – “Nope, no rain up there”.

    And it’s a hopeful poem. I like that. Thanks for a good read.

    1. What a fantastic title. I love the reference to “Bill’s mother” and the fact she’s getting the rain…. or is that just a turn-of-phrase from Nottingham perhaps? And I also love the poem’s light touch and the way you slip in conjecture and prediction so effortlessly. I like the hopefulness of chaos being the answer ….. and that the earth is ticking away down there according to its own clocks. Lovely.

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