Ben Parker’s spring


Rock Watchers:

Outside, the spring is under way,
that centre-stage fluent trajectory
of coloured backdrop
and curtain raise. It fills windows
everywhere and most particularly

the one behind which I stand
to observe the final claim
of winter on the land: the stone
that holds within its mineral shell
the remnant cold collected

from the last snow that fell
before warmth returned and forced
the chill to take its refuge like a bird
in hibernation, weathering
not the frost but the thaw that follows.

As occupant of this overlooking room
I have the task of keeping safe
this storehouse of a season
but am forbidden to either touch
or let it leave my sight.

If my attendance is successful
come autumn a spark will still remain
from which the ice might grow
and in its turn compel the vagrant heat
to find a hidden dwelling of its own.


No. 8a:

We can hear her bird heart beating its life
deep in the cage of her chest. It is so loud
we suspect that it is trying to break free.

We give her stones to lay on the feathers
so the heart will remain where it belongs
but still it strains against her fragile breast

and so we fit a net across her open mouth
and keep a constant watch in case the bird
flies from its perch and rises to the light.

We are ready to clip its wings if we must.
We have stopped feeding it the dry seed
and every day now it grows a little calmer.

Ben Parker’s debut pamphlet was published by tall-lighthouse in 2012, and
shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Marks Award. He is currently poet-in-residence at The Museum of Royal Worcester. www.benparkerpoetry.co.uk


What’s on your doormat?


Last week a friend and I visited the Grayson Perry display, Who are You? currently running at the National Portrait Gallery. The display ties in with the TV series and what I liked most about it, well one of the things, was the way you had to find the pieces by following a map. Having them spaced out gave you time to breath and really take in each exhibit. Probably my favourite piece was a £10 note tapestry with the Queen looking like (in Grayson’s own words) “your auntie”. What I immediately thought when I looked at his portrait of Britishness “What a fantastic writing exercise for my students”.

Grayson Perry tapestry

So how lucky was I when a copy of Playing to the Gallery plopped through my letterbox? It got me thinking about the next theme for The Poetry Shed… What’s on your doormat? So poems relating to this theme can be sent to me to be posted up here after Christmas.

What else this week?


A couple of Christmas cards that made me smile, a book-shaped present I am bound to open before Christmas and Josephine Corcoran’s The Misplaced House published by Tall-Lighthouse. I thought I’d give you a taster, rather seasonal…


Helen Mort

Helen Mort: Featured Poet

After Tarkovsky

A karner butterfly,
climbing the stairwell
of late evening,

through the shadows
cast by larches, up
into the last colour

this sun can give; how
it holds the pages
of its black-edged wings,

unreadable. At night,
I take a leather book,
switch off the lamp

and open it. So dark,
I barely even see
the white. It’s then

I settle on the bed.
It’s then I read
just what I like.


Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985 and grew up in nearby Chesterfield. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, ‘the shape of every box’ and ‘a pint for the ghost’ (a PBS Choice). Her first full collection is forthcoming from Chatto & Windus. Helen received an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer prize in 2008. From 2010-2011 she was Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere where she published ‘Lie of the Land’, a pamphlet of poems written during her residency. She is currently working towards a PhD at Sheffield University.