Poetry

Exciting news!

My debut poetry collection, Salacia, is launching in Spring 2018 with Parthian books. Salacia was the Roman Goddess of the sea. You can see samples of some already published works, which will be included in the collection, below:

Gwen Ellis

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Gwen Ellis

When the gallow-wood cracked and knocked beneath me,
I didn’t lay my body against the crisp floor, or fold,
or spill salt in their name. I didn’t do much at all.

Days before, my breath had caught as he kicked and convulsed,
recoiling from willow sap smeared with self-sure fingers
across his dreaming brow. He’s gone mad, they said.

Rigid as a lamb slipping from the womb, young limbs
contorted, he lay gasping and quivering, his mother
wailing my name – Gwen, Gwen.

Even then, I didn’t curl into the crevice of his sweat-soaked knees
or hide in the folds of his bruised eyelids. I didn’t rock as they called
for their God. Iesu Grist. I refused to pray.

When they flaunted the pressed symbols like fat black flies
buttered on the page, I didn’t let the ink stain my skin
or wallow in the crumpled wings.

Ox-arms bundled my frame, rough-palmed, familiar as night,
and I smelled iron, curdling and hot. I didn’t flinch
at the heady clack on clack of the bolt.

Through the window, slit like a watchful eye, the wind howled
the note of my last breath, clean as organ pipes. Damning.
I whistled with it. I waited.

Outside, I stared into mouths wide as caverns, their words whipped
away by the crack of cold air. Slack-jawed, their tongues
lolled in the milk-light, limp as nooses.

When the gallow-wood cracked and knocked beneath my feet,
I embraced the softness of clean fabric, imagined dancing
myself into darkness. I fell.

Blodeuwedd

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Blodeuwedd

I landed in your outstretched palms,
leapfrogged towards you,
cooked like hot broth, served to ease your hunger.

My creamy bust bloomed to nourish your thirst,
my budlips softened to meet yours,
I was broom and oak and you embraced me like an insect
around its prey.

You left me waiting in the dark,
calling out like an owl,
I wrapped my feathers around my own tired body
and   waited, and   called  .

I turned your absence into a headdress,
pruned hawthorne and primrose
and wore it as a crown
around my throbbing skull.

I opened myself, unfolded
so that he could fill the empty space,
We grew together towards the sun
as he touched my milk-skin
and kissed the crushed lilac leaves of my clothes.

His limbs wrapped like branches,
bold as wood around my waist,
the silence you left behind
nibbling like ivory teeth at my earlobe.

Unpicking

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unpicking

As she perches on the cusp of a swingset,
the midday sun picks sweat from fingers
coiled with a mother’s love around
the flexing plastic trinket.

With trembling hands she unpicks the metal
from its casing, draws breath – she waits –
holds the oxygen in her lungs like two sacks
of captured bullfrogs, humming for release.

Repulsed by the starchy wholeness of her body,
her skin goads the flash of silver until
she is sewn together by the breakages –
her arms a tapestry of something
or nothing.

Every day she unpicks herself, maps the emptiness,
gridlike, above the sewage-system of her veins,
draws across the canvas of her skin, hollowing
herself like the clean scoop of a pumpkin.

Sunlight sticks the clothing to her back, heavy
as dead flesh, she folds herself in two – she waits –
her breath a quiver in the hot air, fragile
as skin-flakes, insubstantial as starlight.


imagesThese poems appear in Parthian’s Cheval 10. To find out where you can see more of my published work, see my portfolio.

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