Bill Greenwell

December poems part 7: Bill Greenwell, Luigi Marchini, Geraldine Green

Heidi Mallott

Artwork: Heidi Malott

for Chris

After the hundred walks, some to the sea,
………..some across gorse, some to the pub,
and some to the fresh beds,
………..yours and mine, and after a summer
soaking in Greek island spray,
………..and in late autumn on the first
of three days away, hurriedly planned,
………..suddenly you frost, you say
now is a bad time, but all times are bad,
………..and leave the room, and say you’ve been
meaning to tell me, would have
……… around to it, like lagging the pipes
before winter. And my mouth
………..cramps. And everything is stilled
and difficult, like drinking anaesthetic
………..straight from the fridge.

After the dying, after the coming back,
………..the note to ring you on the icy flap
of a weathered envelope, after the still blue
………..luminous lights of police cars, and the snow
suffusing my pupils, after the can’t-help-you-here
………..of conversation, what do I do
with the flurries of heartbeat? It’s a bastard,
………..a friend says, love: you can’t even
hate them because you would do anything for them
………..other than this. Sit in the tent, then,
and watch the thermometer fall? Or
………..start hunting down someone who will
bring you back? Or take the stones
………..out of your chest, and arrange them
on the mantelpiece, artily (you, of course,
………..have been taken down, and filed

in an album)? It’s a conundrum.
………..Unshaven, you wait for the weather,
close the curtains, watch the window
………..for the oily arrival of sunlight.

Bill Greenwell

Bill Greenwell was born in Sunderland in 1952, and worked in Devon for 36 years before returning to the North-East, where he is the Open University in the North’s Staff Tutor for the Arts. He was New Statesman’s weekly satirical poet from 1994 to 2002, and his web-site continues this tradition. His first collection, Impossible Objects, was shortlisted for the Forward best first collection prize in 2006. His second, Ringers is also from Cinnamon Press: – Bill Greenwell does things with language you didn’t know were possible… Selima Hill.

Kimberly Conrad

Winter’s Kiss

As hungry as a polar bear’s roar he digs
into snow with bone from a whale
stripped bare long ago further north,
where the breeze slashes through: cold –
miserable, disdainful. This bone

has travelled a long way
its work not yet finished, has barely
started, as he stabs it deep,
hurriedly – night will soon slip

in. Beneath snow, bone strikes ice
not hard enough. Now wet
from the sharpness of the weather,
toil of his dig,
he is a celluloid piece of Artic

with no woods to shelter in: a snowman,
a snow football for the elements. Through
with the search
he lifts bone to mouth
while listening to the dirge.

Luigi Marchini

Luigi Marchini was brought up in London where he spent many a happy maths and physics lesson at the National Film Theatre. Since escaping to Kent some years ago he has had his début pamphlet, The Anatomist,  published by The Conversation Paperpress (2009), and been chairman of the Canterbury based Save As Writers’ Group.



For those
who cannot speak.

For those who can,
but speak in a different voice.

Voice of children in prison
Voice of prisoners tortured.

Voices of hunger and fear.
Voice of no stone unturned

until we rescue them.
Voice of those

denied a voice
Voice of fox and hare

Voice of grouse and badger.
Voice of greed

Voice of torture
Voices of fear and power

Voice of love
and compassion.

Voice of who we are and
who we choose to be

Tongue of oppressed, the dying and lonely
Tongues that sing the song of community.
Tongue of courage and defiance.

Tongues that sing in all tongues
the Babel of Language,

the language of love and humanity.
language of love of earth and empathy.

One love.
Our animal selves.

Geraldine Green

Geraldine Green is a writer, freelance creative tutor and mentor based in Ulverston on the Furness Peninsula, Cumbria where she was born. Her latest collection, Salt Road’ was published by Indigo Dreams in September 2013. Geraldine is currently working on a new pamphlet collection, A Wing and a Prayer, as part of her post as writer-in-residence at Swarthmoor Hall. She is a regular guest tutor at Brantwood and runs monthly creative writing workshops titled ‘Write to Roam’ on a working farm near Kirkby Lonsdale. She gained a PhD in creative writing poetry in September 2011. Her blog.

Bill Greenwell

Bill Greenwell: Featured Poet

Air Force

Oh you were perfect, a perfect
helminth, they said. They had words for you, words
with you, a whole string of indignant nouns.

And all because of the day, windless and bright,
that they lined you up like a squadron
of roses and tulips, in bloom

for the photographer under his prayer-shawl,
flash-gun up like a ping-pong paddle
guiding in nervous flight crews.

Just before the powder blew
you mussed your hair up, because you could,
because you were born

with a rebel heart. Look at the picture.
I do. Under the prim and cloudless sky, of all the attentive faces,
I can only pick out one: yours.


Bill Greenwell is a poet and parodist, and the Arts Staff Tutor for the Open University in the North. He’s from Sunderland, was New Statesman’s satirical writer in the nineties, and is one of the OU’s creative writing team. He has two sites: and He was born in 1952, and his collection Impossible Objects is published by Cinnamon.